War of the Rebellion: Serial 002 Page 0456 OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W. VA. Chapter IX.

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and the words of command given by those who were in charge of the party by whom it was cut away were distinctly heard by Captain Coit at his advanced position. I had as yet received no orders to draw in my pickets, although the enemy could now be plainly seen deploying across the road at a distance of four hundred to five hundred yards in front of my line. The delay on the part of the enemy in advancing immediately upon my position led me to suspect a flank movement was intended upon my left, and this, if successful, would have necessarily involved the sacrifice of Captain Hough's command. My surmise was soon confirmed by the rapid movement of the enemy's skirmishers to the left in squads of four or five, while his advance still bore slowly down on my front.

Although I had been advised of the original purpose of the commanding general to fall back upon Centreville and Bull Run, the apparent impossibility of now withdrawing in safety from the immediate presence of a largely superior force led me to suppose that there had been a change in the plan of operations, and that it was expected a stand should be made in our present position. I communicated this supposition to the men of my command, and it is due them to say that the degree of alacrity with which they assumed the positions assigned them severally and the coolness with which they prepared to meet the overwhelming numbers immediately opposing them entitle them to most honorable mention. At this critical juncture, and as he was on the point of opening fire upon the advancing enemy, Lieutenant McCarthy received orders to withdraw his gun from position and rejoin his battery. My command was thus left unsupported, while I was every instant expecting my skirmishers to engage those of the enemy. The distance between the enemy's advance and my skirmishers was reduced to less than one hundred yards before I received orders to withdraw my command and take position in the retreating column. I immediately dispatched two of the mounted staff to the relief of the skirmishers and pickets, and filed out of the trenches, retiring in goof order through Germantown to the Centreville road, where the column had been halted and awaited my coming. A was for some time fearful that the detached companies which I had been compelled to leave on duty would be cut off before they could rejoin the regiment, and this would certainly have been the case but for the personal exertions of Colonel R. D. Howard, volunteer aide-de-camp to the colonel, and Captain J. C. McClenaghan, regimental quartermaster, who at the imminent peril of their own safety sought and conducted across the fields the skirmishing parties and pickets, and overtook the column near Centreville. Two shots were fired upon Captain Hough's command as it passed through Germantown, but without effect.

At Centreville the column was halted, any my regiment assigned to position on the crest of the hill on the left of the road leading to Fairfax Court-House and behind the Brown Church. Here I was ordered to remain in line of battle, with my right next the road and fronting the approach from Fairfax Court-House. I detailed Company H, Captain Singletary, to take position as picket in the woods about one mile in front of my line, and Companies I, Captain Stackhouse, and G, Captain Harrington, were deployed as skirmishers at a distance of two hundred yards in front, extending from the turnpike to the Chantilly road.

At 12 o'clock p.m. my picket came in and reported the presence of the enemy in the woods near their late position. This was communicated to brigade headquarters, and at 1 o'clock I was ordered to draw in my outposts and join the column retiring towards Manassas. This was quietly done, my skirmishers reporting the sound of the tramp of