thirty thousand menacing my front, and separated from me only by a shallow river, fordable at many points for infantry as well as cavalry and artillery — no supporting force within eight or ten miles--I supposed that it was not really the intention of the Commanding General to leave me in this position. I was confirmed in my opinion by the answer of Gen. Banks, who advised me to march to Fayetteville, and by the fragmentary paper saying that I would find my pontoon-train at that point. Considering all this, I resolved to march to Fayetteville at night, and made my preparations accordingly, though I did not believe in the correctness of the whole plan. Just at the moment when my troops were about to move, one of my officers returned with an order of Gen. Pope, directing me to march to Warrenton and to encamp there. I put my troops in motion in compliance with this order, and cautiously withdrew from Waterloo Bridge, as I had not a single company of cavalry to cover my retreat. Before withdrawing, however, I ordered the destruction of the bridge, which was accomplished under the direction of Gen. Milroy, after much exertion and some loss of life. At two o'clock next morning, (August twenty-sixth,) as I was entering Warrenton with my rear-guard, I received another order from Gen. Pope, through Gen. McDowell, directing me to “force the passage of Waterloo Bridge at daylight.” As this was an impossibility, the troops having marched the whole night on a very inconvenient road, I reported to Major-General Pope this fact, and received orders to stay at Warrenton. During the day I ascertained that the enemy was marching by Thoroughfare Gap to Manassas, and on the following night that his main army was encamped at White Plains, the advanced guard east of Thoroughfare Gap, and the rear at Orleans. This news was brought in by all the scouts sent out by me, and some cavalry, to Sperryville, Salem, and Gainesville, and immediately communicated by telegraph to Major-General Pope. It was also reported to me that the enemy was moving during the night, that Jackson would be in Manassas next day, and that Longstreet had not yet joined him, but was two miles from Salem at noon on Wednesday, the twenty-seventh. In view of these facts, I proposed to General McDowell, to whose command the First corps had been attached since its arrival at Waterloo Bridge, to concentrate our troops at Gainesville, and thereby separate Longstreet's troops from those of Jackson, taking the enemy at Manassas in the rear, and, by forcing him to evacuate Manassas, effect a junction with the army of General McClellan. This movement was executed. On the morning of the twenty-seventh, the First corps left Warrenton for Buckland Bridge, on the road to Gainesville, with directions to take possession of the road, and thereby open the road to Gainesville. The brigade of Brig.-General Milroy advanced rapidly toward the bridge, and drove the enemy — who was stationed there with some artillery and cavalry — back to Gainesville, while the pioneers repaired the bridge, which had been set on fire and partially destroyed by the enemy. In a short time the whole of General Milroy's brigade had passed the river and pressed forward against Gainesville, taking on their way about one hundred and fifty prisoners. I now ordered General Schurz to pass the river, and follow General Milroy, and take position behind him. The division of General Schenck also crossed the river, and the infantry brigade of General Steinwehr remained in reserve at the bridge. Such was the position of the First corps on the evening of the twenty-seventh. During the night General McDowell's corps arrived at Buckland Mills, and I received orders at three o'clock in the morning to march to Manassas and to take a position with my right resting on the railroad leading from Warrenton Junction to Manassas Junction — so, at least, I understood the order. On this march our cavalry sent out to the left in the direction of Groveton, was shelled by the enemy about one and a half miles distant from the road on which we marched; and besides this, an artillery engagement began between General McDowell's corps and the enemy. I immediately halted, ordered the whole corps to countermarch, and formed in order of battle on the heights parallel with the Centreville-Gainesville road. The enemy's infantry and cavalry pickets were about three hundred yards from our lines, and our skirmishers had already advanced against them, when, on a report made to General McDowell, I received orders to march forthwith to Manassas Junction. I reluctantly obeyed this order, marched off from the right, and was within two and a half miles from Manassas when our cavalry reported that Manassas was evacuated by the enemy, and that General Kearny was in possession of that point. As I was sure that the enemy must be somewhere between Centreville and Gainesville, I asked permission to march to New-Market, whereupon I was directed to march to Centreville. This order was in execution, and the troops prepared to cross the fords of Bull Run, when our advance met the enemy on the road leading from New-Market to Sudley's Ford, this side of Bull Run. About the same time I received a report from General Pope that the enemy was concentrating at Centreville. Supposing that this was correct, I directed the brigades of General Milroy and Colonel McLean to advance against the enemy this side of Bull Run, on the road to Sudley's Spring, and left General Stahl's brigade and General Schurz's division near the fords, the latter division facing toward Centreville. At noon, however, as I had ascertained that Centreville was evacuated by the enemy, I followed with these troops to assist Brig.-General Milroy and Colonel McLean, who, under the direction of Brig.-General Schenck, was briskly engaged with the left of the enemy's forces, whose right had engaged a brigade of the Third corps. Our artillery advanced steadily until the darkness of the night interrupted their
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.