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William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, chapter 2 (search)
ding the Centreville ridge from Centreville up to Blackburn's Ford, withdrew his troops from these positions, uncovering the passage of the stream to the Confederates, and exposing the whole retreating mass to capture or destruction,—a fate which was averted by the arrival of General McDowell, who ordered back Miles' troops to their position, and by the inactivity of the Confederates. Nothing like systematic pursuit was made, although a small party of cavalry followed the retreat as far as Cub Run. By sundown, most of the army was safe behind the Centreville ridge. There was, however, no question of halting there; for the condition of the army and the absence of supplies left no alternative but to fall back; and during the night the army made its way to the Potomac. The retreat was marked by great disorder, all semblance of military organization being lost. Many did not even stop on reaching the camps south of the Potomac, but fled by the bridges and ferries to Washington. This,