Centreville. He was then about to Sangster's, invited me to attend him. Not understanding his journey to have the character of a reconnaissance, but as simply to communicate with the division of Colonel Heintzelman, I preferred accompanying the division of General Tyler to Centreville.
Proceeding to Centreville, I joined Captain alexander, Engineers, a short distance out ont he road leading to Blackburn's Ford. He was at this time preparing to encamp his pioneer party, and it was my intention, as soon as the troops should be fixed in their positions, to propose to General Tyler to make a reconnaissance of the enemy's position at Blackburn's Ford.
It should be borne in mind that the plan of the campaign had been to turn the position of Manassas by the left; that this to say, that from Fairfax Court-House and Centreville we were to make a flank movement towards Sangster's and Fairfax Station, and thence to Wolf Run Shoals, or in that direction. In my interview with the commanding general, just referred to, he said nothing to indicate any change of plan, but, ont he contrary, his remarks carried the impression that he was more than ever confirmed in his plan, and spoke of the advance on Centreville as a "demonstration." In proposing, therefore, to reconnoiter the enemy's position at Blackburn's Ford, it was not with the slightest idea that this point would be attacked. But a reconnaissance would be but the carrying out of a demonstration.
While I was awaiting Captain Alexander, I encountered Mathias C. Mitchell, who was afterwards secured as a guide, representing himself as a Union man, and a resident of that vicinity. I was engaged questioning him, when intelligence was received that General Tyler had sent back for artillery and infantry, and that the enemy was in sight before him. Riding to the front, I joined General Tyler and Colonel richardson. Proceeding with them a short distance farther, we emerged from the woods, and found ourselves at the point at which the road commences its descent to Blackburn's Ford. The run makes here a curve or bow towards us, which the road bisects. The slopes from us towards it were gentle and mostly open. On the other side the banks of the run rise more abruptly, and are wooded down tot he very edge of the run. Higher up a cleared spot could be seen here and there, and still higher-higher than our own point of view, and only visible from its sloping gently towards us-the elevated plateau (comparatively open) in which Manassas Junction is situated.
Although, owing to the thickness of the wood, little could be seen along the edge of the run, it was quite evident from such glimpses as we could obtain that the enemy was in force behind it I represented to General Tyler that this point was the enemy's strong position on the direct road to Manassas Junction; that it was no part of the plan to assail it. I did not, however, object to a demonstration, believing that it would favor what I supposed still to be the commanding general's plan of campaign. The two 20-pounders Parrotts had been ordered up; they were opened upon the enemy's position, firing in various directions, without our being able to perceive the degree of effect they produced. We had fired perhaps a half dozen rounds, when we were answered by a rapid discharge from a battery apparently close down to the run and a rapid discharge from a battery apparently close down to the run and at the crossing of the road. The 20-pounders continued their firing, directing at this battery, and Ayres' battery was brought up and stationed on the left. The enemy's batteries soon ceased answering. After ours had continued playing for about half an hour I thought it a useless expenditure of ammunition, and so stated to you