(who arrived on the spot shortly before this), and presume that General Tyler concurred in this opinion, as the firing soon ceased. I supposed that this would be the end of the affair; but, perceiving the troops filing down towards the run, I thought it necessary to impress General Tyler with the fact that it was no part of the commanding general's plan to bring on a serious engagement. I directed Captain Alexander, Engineers, to state this fact to him, which he did in writing (having stated the same verbally before). At the same time I directed Lieutenant Houston to accompany the troops, and make such observations of the enemy's position as he could. I remained ont he heights, observing as well as I could the movements of the enemy's forces. The affair becoming more serious than I expected, I was about to go down to the front when our troops retired, and I returned to Centreville with yourself to report to General McDowell.
It is proper to observe that before our artillery practice commenced movements of troops were observed on the road leading from Manassas to Blackburn's Ford. As the road presented itself to the eye, those nor very familiar with the locality might well ell some doubt, judging merely by the eye, whether these troops were advancing to or retiring from the position at Blackburn's Ford. The impression seemed to be quite common among us that they were retiring. I was perfectly sure that they were columns moving up to meet us from Manassas.
At my interview with the commanding general that evening, he informed me that he had convinced himself that the nature of the country to the left or southward of Manassas was unfit for the operations of a large army; that he had determined to move by the right, turning the enemy's left; that the provision trains were just coming in, and that the troops would require the next day to cook their provision for another march. I told him I would endeavor the next day to obtain such information as would enable him to decide on his future movement.
The next most promoted crossing of Bull Run above Blackburn's Ford is the stone bridge of the Warrenton turnpike. Such a point could scarcely be neglected by the enemy. Information from various quarters gave good cause for believing that it was guarded by several thousand men; that at least four cannon were stationed to play upon it and the ford not far below, and, moreover, that the bridge was mined, and that extensive abatis obstructed the road on the opposite shore.
Two or three miles above the Warrenton Bridge is a ford, laid down on our maps as "Sudley Spring." Reliable information justified the belief that the ford was good; that it was unfortified; that it was watched by only one or two companies, and, moreover, that the run above it was almost everywhere passable for wheeled vehicles. Midway between the stone bridge and Sudley Spring our maps indicated another ford, which was said to be good.
Notwithstanding our conviction of the practicability of these fords no known road communicated with them from any of the main roads on our side of Bull Run. We had information that a road branched from the Warrenton turnpike a short distance beyond Cub Run, by which, opening gates and passing through private grounds, we might reach the fords. It was desirable to assure ourselves that this route was entirely practicable. In company with captain Woodbury, Engineers, and Governor Sprague, and escorted by a company of cavalry, I on the 19th followed up the valley of Cub run until we reached a point west 10 north, and about four miles in air line from Centreville, near which we struck a road which we believed to lead to the fords. Following it for a short distance, we encountered the enemy's