Deeming it possible that General McCall's movement to Dranesville, together with the subsequent reconnaissances, might have the effect of inducing the enemy to abandon Leesburg, and the dispatch from Sugar Loaf appearing to confirm this view, I wished General Stone, who had only a line of pickets on the river-the mass of his troops being out of sight of and beyond range from the Virginia bank-to make some display of an intention to cross, and also to watch the enemy more closely than usual. I did not direct him to cross, nor did I intend that he should cross the river in force for the purpose of fighting.
The above dispatch was sent on the 20th, and reached General Stone as early as 11 a. m. of that day. I expected him to accomplish all that was intended on the same day; and this he did, as will be seen from the following dispatch, received at my headquarters in Washington from Poolesville on the evening of October 20:
Made a feint of crossing at this place this afternoon, and at the same time started a reconnoitering party towards Leesburg from Harrison's Island. The enemy's pickets retired to entrenchments. Report of reconnoitering party not yet received. I have means of crossing 125 men once in ten minutes at each of two points. River falling slowly.
C. P. STONE,
As it was not foreseen or expected that General McCall would be needed to co-operate with General Stone in any attack, he was directed to fall back from Dranesville to his original camp, near Prospect Hill, as soon as the required reconnaissances were completed. Accordingly he left Dranesville on his return at about 8.30 a. m. of the 21st, reaching his old camp at about 1 p. m.
In the mean time I was surprised to hear from General Stone that a portion of his troops were engaged on the Virginia side of the river, and at once sent instructions to General McCall to remain at Dranesville, if he had not left before the order reached him. The order did not reach him until his return to his camp at Langley. He was then ordered to rest his men and hold his division in readiness to return to Dranesville at a moment's notice, should it become necessary. Similar instructions were given to other divisions during the afternoon.
The first intimation I received from General Stone of the real nature of his movements was in a telegram, as follows:
EDWARDS FERRY, October 21-11.10 a. m.
The enemy have been engaged opposite Harrison's Island; our men behaving admirably.
C. P. STONE,
At 2 p. m. General Banks' adjutant-general sent the following:
DARNESTOWN, October 21, 1861-2 p. m.
General R. B. MARCY:
General Stone safely crossed the river this morning. Some engagements have taken place on the other side of the river; how important is not known.
R. M. COPELAND,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
General Stone sent the following dispatches on the same day at the hours indicated:
EDWARDS FERRY, October 21, 1861-2 p. m.
There has been sharp firing on the right of our line, and our troops appear to be.
3 R R-VOL V