Tower's brigade, of Ricketts' division, was pushed forward into action in support of Reynolds' division, and was led forward in person by General Tower with conspicuous skill and gallantry. The conduct of that brigade, in plain view of all the forces on our left, was especially distinguished, and drew forth hearty and enthusiastic cheers. The example of this brigade was of great service, and infused new spirit into all the troops who witnessed their intrepid conduct. Reno's corps was also withdrawn from its position on our right center late in the afternoon and thrown into the action on our left, where it behaved with conspicuous gallantry. Notwithstanding these great disadvantages our troops held their ground with the utmost firmness and obstinacy, and the losses on both sides were very heavy. By dark our left had been forced back about half or three-quarters of a mile, but still remained firm and unbroken and still covered the turnpike in our rear.
About 6 o'clock in the afternoon I heard accidentally that Franklin's corps had arrived at a point about 4 miles east of Centreville and 12 miles in our rear, and that it was only about 8,000 strong. The result of the battle of the 30th, the very heavy losses we had suffered, and the complete prostration of our troops from hunger and fatigue made it plain to me that we were no longer able, in the face of such overwhelming odds, to maintain our position so far to the front, nor would we have been able to do so under any circumstances, suffering as were the men and horses from fatigue and hunger and weakened by the heavy losses incident to the uncommon hardships which they had suffered.
About 8 o'clock at night, therefore, I sent written instructions to the commanders of corps to withdraw leisurely toward Centreville, and stated to them what route each should pursue and where they should take post. General Reno was instructed with his whole corps to cover the movements of the army toward Centreville. The withdrawal was made slowly, quietly, and in good order, no pursuit whatever having been attempted by the enemy. A division of infantry, with its batteries, was posted to cover the crossing of Cub Run.
The exact losses in this battle I am unable to give, as the reports received from the corps commanders only exhibit the aggregate losses during the whole of the operations from the 22nd of August to the 2nd of September. Before leaving the field that night I sent orders to General Banks, at Bristoe Station, to destroy the railroad trains and such of the shoes in them as he was unable to carry off, and rejoin me at Centreville. I had previously sent him orders to throw into each wagon of the army trains as much as possible of the stores from the railroad cars, and to be sure and bring off with him from Warrenton Junction and Bristoe all the ammunition and all the sick and wounded that could be transported, and for this purpose, if it were necessary, to throw out the personal baggage, tents, & c., from the regimental trains. These several orders are appended. At no time during the 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st of August was the road between Bristoe Station and Centreville interrupted by the enemy. The whole of the trains of the army were on that road in charge of General Banks, and covered and protected by his whole corps. If any of these wagons were lost, as I believe none were, it was wholly without necessity. I enter thus specifically into this matter, and submit the orders sent to General Banks and his subsequent report to me, because no part of the misrepresentation of this campaign has been grosser than the statement of our heavy loss of wagons and supplies. The orders submitted will show conclusively that every arrangement was made, in the utmost detail, for the