from the rebels flying over my head, followed by two from the Parrott guns in the oat-field rushing in the opposite direction, satisfied me that the safest place during an engagement was not between two hostile batteries. We fell back, therefore, behind the crest of the hill. The firing on both sides grew very brisk, and the shot from the rebels nearly all passed overhead, crushing among the trees of the wood beyond, and wounding several of the great number of persons, troops and others, who had collected there for shelter. Just then the Sixty-ninth New York regiment came up through the wood---the ears of its men being constantly saluted by these whistling balls — and was ordered to form in the field behind the house. It was soon followed by the Seventy-ninth, who did not, however, go out of the wood. The firing, which had commenced at three and a half o'clock, ceased on both sides at five minutes before four, and our entire force was ordered to withdraw on Centreville. This is the whole of it,--and I have no time to add comments, as this hasty letter must be sent at once by a special messenger, who may reach Washington in time for the four and a half o'clock mail to-morrow morning. General McDowell, who had been to visit the other column, came up just as the engagement was over. I believe he says the existence of this battery was well known, and that the men ought not to have been sent against it. Gen. Tyler, formerly of the U. S. Army, is an officer of merit and experience. He displayed great coolness throughout the whole affair. I met a son of Gen. Leavenworth coming off the field, a lad of seventeen, who had stayed in the wood to bathe his feet, after the Twelfth, to which he belonged, was driven out, and who says he was surprised to find he was not half as much scared as he had expected to be. While on the sidehill, being half famished with thirst, I asked a swallow from the canteen of a portly gentleman who was passing. He gave it to me, and I found it was Hon. Mr. Lovejoy, of Illinois. There were half-a-dozen private gentlemen present as spectators. The criticism which will be made on this mishap will be that men should not have been thus thrust upon a masked battery — that it is a repetition of the old Big Bethel and Vienna affairs. Gen. Tyler, however, says that it was only a reconnoissance in force — that the object he had in view was to determine what force and batteries the enemy had at that point — and that he now understands this perfectly. Undoubtedly, this is so; the only question is, whether the knowledge was not purchased at too dear a cost. Upon one thing you may rely: This misfortune will not delay the attack on Manassas. On the contrary, it will hasten it. But I think that, instead of leading troops directly against batteries, whether masked or not, Gen. McDowell will turn their entire position. The movement of troops, to-night, indicates a purpose to throw the troops upon the north side of the intrenched camp, from this point, while other columns will approach it from other directions. The result will vindicate the movement.
H. J. R.
--N. Y. Times, July 20, 1861.
N. Y. Tribune narrative.
encampment near Bull Run, Friday, July 19, 1861.The skirmish of yesterday, as I have before intimated, was, after all, an affair of very slight consequence. It is true that an attempt upon the enemy's position was begun, and that it failed; but it was not made in force, and it occasioned us no serious loss. It is difficult to understand, even now, the precise intention of our Generals in arranging the attack. The preparations were too important for a skirmish or reconnoissance, and not sufficiently so for an effective engagement. The fact probably is, that our operations were conducted on no particular plan, and that the successive dispositions of our troops were guided by vague impulses, rather than by sound judgment. Unfortunate errors certainly were committed, both at the commencement and during the progress of the skirmish, but to what extent they may have affected the result can now only be conjectured. After the position shall have been taken, and the ground examined, we can judge more surely. I last night sent an extremely hasty account of the affair, to which some details may be added to-day, at the risk of occasional repetitions. When the head of our division left the encampment near Centreville on Thursday morning, it was supposed that the four brigades would follow regularly, and that the movement was, as it had been the previous day, one of magnitude and force. Under this impression, we passed through Centreville, (where, by the way, we learned that five or six thousand rebel troops, with artillery and cavalry, had marched from Fairfax toward Manassas the night before, and there we might have intercepted them had we advanced instead of halting for the night between Germantown and Centreville, and thus prevented their joining the rebel force at Bull Run, or elsewhere,) and made gradual progress southward. The skirmishers were somewhat less cautiously posted, and, indeed, the entire line of march seemed to be less carefully preserved than during the day before. The second brigade, as it afterward appeared, was upward of a mile behind the first, and the remaining two were left at such a distance as to forbid any hope of prompt reinforcement from them, in case of an engagement. The day was excessively warm, and the troops, excepting those of the advance, marched languidly. They were halted at about a mile from Bull Run, to await the result of a reconnoissance by Gen. Tyler, who preceded by the skirmishers, and attended by a squadron of cavalry, under Capt. Brackett, rode forward to the position which was subsequently taken up by our forces.