Sulpur Springs, we advanced to Waterloo Bridge on the same day we had taken possession of Sulpur Springs-on the 24th August. The brigade of General Milroy occupied a position on the north side of the bridge, extending his line of sharpshooters along the shore of the river. The main body of the corps was encamped between the bridge and Sulphur and behind it the corps, of Major-General Banks and General Reno's division. The enemy had advanced from Rappahannock Station along the south side of the river in a line parallel with the route taken by our troops, and was trying to cross at the above-named ford (Freeman's) and the bridges at Sulphur Springs and Waterloo. On the night of the 24th of August his camp-fires extended from Water 100 Bridge to Jefferson Village, a distance of 4 or 5 miles, his main force, of about 30,000 men, occupying the latter point.
Early on the morning of the 25th a sharp skirmish commenced at the (Waterloo) bridge, which was reported to me by General Pope to have been destroyed by General Buford, but which was found on our arrival in good order and strongly defended by the enemy. While we were taking position on the north side the enemy began to break up his camp at Jefferson and to mass his troops on the south side of the bridge. By noon twenty-eight regiments of infantry, six batteries, and several regiments of cavalry of the enemy had arrived and taken their position. I had the night before given notice of the enemy's strength and movements to Major-General Pope, and now again informed him of the position of affairs, as the disposition he had made of our forces was evidently based on the supposition that the enemy would force the passage of the river between Bealeton and Waterloo Bridge. In the mean time I had been directed to march to Fayetteville and form part of the center of the army, to be arrayed in a line extending from Waterloo Bridge to Bealeton Station.
In accordance with this order General Milroy should have been relieved in the morning by a brigade of General McDowell. Another brigade of the Third Corps (McDowell's) had to march to Sulphur Springs. In the forenoon of the same day General Roberts, of Major-General Pope's staff, delivered to me a verbal order to hold my position at Waterloo Bridge under all circumstances and to mast the enemy if he should try to force the passage of the river, and that General McDowell would be on my right, with the cavalry brigade of General Buford, and General Banks on my left.
Soon afterward I received intelligence that a large force of the enemy's cavalry had crossed on my right and was moving toward Orleans, and that another force had crossed on my left, at Sulphur Springs, and taken possession of that place. I immediately ordered General Beardsley, with the Ninth New York Cavalry and four mountain howitzers, to Sulphur Springs, to shell the enemy out of the place, which he did. The rest of my cavalry, consisting of three companies of the First Virginia and two of the First Maryland, I ordered toward Orleans, for the purpose of protecting my right flank. Meanwhile cannonading was kept up near the bridge, and from all indications I supposed that the enemy would avail himself of the opportunity to make a combined attack against my position. I therefore sent to the left to find Generals Banks and Reno, and to the right to look after General McDowell's troops, especially the cavalry brigade, and was not a little astonished to learn that Generals Banks and Reno were, by orders of General Pope, on their march to Bealeton, and that no troops could be found on my right except the cavalry brigade of General Buford, which was encamped 4 miles behind us on the Warrenton