nothing was visible but the same force under Ashby which had been repulsed the previous evening.
Not being able to reconnoiter the front in person, I dispatched an experienced officer, Colonel John S. Mason, of the Fourth Ohio Volunteers, about 9 o'clock a.m., to the front to perform that duty, and to report to me as promptly as possible every circumstances that might indicate the presence of an enemy. About an hour after Colonel Mason returned, reporting that he had carefully reconnoitered the country in front and on both flanks, and found no indications of any hostile force except that of Ashby. I communicated this information to Major-General Banks, who was then with me, and after consulting together we both concluded that Jackson could not be tempted to hazard himself so far away from his main support. Having both come to this conclusion, General Banks took his departure for Washington, being already under orders to that effect. The officers of his staff, however, remained behind, intending to leave for Centreville in the afternoon. These officers afterward participated in the battle, and my whole command, as well as myself, are highly indebted to them for valuable services.
Although I began to conclude that Jackson was nowhere in the vicinity, knowing the crafty enemy we had to deal with I took care not to omit a single precaution. Between 11 and 12 o'clock a.m. a message from Colonel Kimball informed me that another battery on the enemy's right had opened against our position, and that there were some indications of a considerable force of infantry in the woods in that quarter. On receiving this information I pushed forward Sullivan's brigade, which was placed, by order of Colonel Kimball, in a position to oppose the advance of the enemy's right wing. The action opened with a fire of artillery on both sides, but at too great a distance to be very effective. The initiative was taken by the enemy. He pushed forward a few more guns to his right, supported by a considerable force of infantry and cavalry, with the apparent intention of enfilading our position and turning our left flank. An active body of skirmishers were admirably supported by four pieces of artillery under Captain Jenks and Sullivan's gallant brigade. This united force repulsed the enemy at all points, and gave him such a check that no further demonstration was made upon that flank during the remainder of the day. The attempt against our left flank having thus failed the enemy withdrew the greater part of his force on the right, and formed it into a reserve to support his left flank in a forward movement. He then added his original reserve and two batteries to his main body, and advancing with this combined column under shelter of the ridge upon his left, on which other batteries had been previously posted, seemed evidently determined to turn our right flank or overwhelm it. Our batteries on the opposite ridge, though admirably managed by their experienced chief, Lieutenant-Colonel Daum, were soon found insufficient to check or even retard the advance of such a formidable body.
At this stage of the combat a message arrived from Colonel Kimball informing me of the state of the field and requesting directions as to the employment of the infantry. I saw there was not a moment to lose, and gave positive orders that all the disposable infantry should be immediately thrown forward on our right to carry the enemy's batteries