general direction of the stream being oblique to the road, and we having the obtuse angle on our side.
General Tayler commenced with his artillery at 6.30 a. m., but the enemy did not reply, and after some time it became a question whether he was in any force in our front, and if he did not intend himself to make an attack, and make it by Blackburn's Ford. After firing several times, and obtaining no response, I held one of Heintzelman's brigades in reserve, in case we should have to send any troops back to re-enforce Mile's division. The other brigades moved forward as directed in the general order.
On reaching the ford at Sudley Springs, I found part of the leading brigade of Hunter's division (Burnside's) had crossed, but the men were slow in getting over, stopping to drink. As at this time the clouds of dust from the direction of Manassas indicated the immediate approach of a large force, and fearing it might come down on the head of the column before the division could all get over and sustain tit, orders were sent back to the heads of regiments to break from the column, and come forward separately as fast as possible.
Orders were sent by an officer to the reserve brigade of Heintzelman's division to come by a nearer road across the fields,a nd an aide-de-camp sent to Brigadier-General Tyler to direct him to press forward his attack, as large bodies of the enemy were passing in front of him to attack the division which had crossed over.
The ground between the stream and the road leading from Sudley Springs south, and over which Burnside's brigade marched, was, for about a mile from the ford, thickly wooded, whilst on the right of the road for about the same distance the country was divided between fields and woods. About a mile from the ford the country on both sides of the road is open, and for nearly a mile farther large rolling fields extend down to the Warrenton turnpike, which crosses what became the field of battle, through the valley of a small water-course, a tributary of Bull Run.
Shortly after the leading regiment of the First Brigade reached this open space, and whilst the others and the Second Brigade were crossing to the front and right, the enemy opened his fire, beginning with artillery and following it up with infantry.
The leading brigade (Burnside's) had to sustain this shock for a short time without support, and did it well. The battalion of regular infantry was sent to sustain it, and shortly afterwards the other corps of Porter's brigade and a regiment detached from Heintzelman's division to the left forced the enemy back far enough to allow Sherman's and Keyes' brigades of Tyler's division to cross from their position on the Warrenton road.
These drove the right of the enemy (understood to have been commanded by Beauregard) from the front of the field, and out of the detached wood,s and down to the road, and across it, up the slopes on the other side. Whilst this was going on, Heintzelman's division was moving down the field to the stream and up the road beyond. Beyond the Warrenton road, and to the left of the road down which our troops had marched from Sudley Springs, is a hill with a farm house on it. Behind this hill the enemy had early int eh day some of his most annoying batteries planted. Across the road from this hill was another hill, or rather elevated ridge or table land. The hottest part of the contest was for the possession of this hill with a house on it.
The force engaged here was Heintzelman's division, Willcox's and Howard's brigades on the right, supported by part of Porter's brigade