road. To confuse matters still more I received a dispatch from General McDowell, one section of it directed to Major-General Banks, asking for news from his corps, and the other directed to myself, informing me that I would join my pontoon train at Fayetteville. I sent this dispatch to General Banks, and requested him to furnish me with what information he could, so that, in the absence of instructions, I might be enabled to direct my movements properly. I also sent to Generals Pope and McDowell, at Warrenton, for an explanation and for orders, but General Pope had left for Warrenton Junction, and General McDowell did not furnish me with any instructions.
It was now nearly sunset and my situation exceedingly critical Threatened on my right and left flank; an army of 30,000 menacing my front and separated from me only by a shallow river, fordable at many points for infantry as well as cavalry and artillery; no supporting force within 8 or 10 miles-I supposed that it was not really the intention of the commanding general to leave me in this position. I was corroborated in my opinion by the answer of General Banks, who advised me to march to Fayetteville, and by the fragmentary paper saying that I would find my pontoon train at that point. Considering all this I resolved to march to Fayetteville at night, and made my preparations accordingly, although I did not believe in the correctness of the whole plan.
Just at the moment when my troops were about to move one of my officers returned with an order of General Pope, directing me to march to Warrenton and to encamp there. I put my troops in motion in compliance with this order and cautiously withdrew from Waterloo Bridge, as I had not a single company of cavalry to cover my retreat. Before withdrawing, however, I ordered the destruction of the bridge, which was accomplished, under the direction of General Milroy, after much exertion and some loss of life.
At 2 o'clock next morning (August 26), as I was entering Warrenton with my rear guard, I received another order from General Pope, through General McDowell, directing me to "force the passage of the Waterloo Bridge at daylight." As this was a matter of impossibility, the troops having marched the whole night on a very inconvenient road, I reported to Major-General Pope this fact, and received orders to stay at Warrenton.
During the day I ascertained that the enemy was marching by Thoroughfare Gap to Manassas, and on the following night that his main army was encamped at White Plains, the advance guard east of Thoroughfare Gap and the rear at Orleans. This news was brought in by all the scouts sent out by me, with some cavalry, to Sperryville, Salem, and Gainesville, and was immediately communicated by telegraph to Major-General Pope. It was also reported to me that the enemy was moving during the night (Tuesday); that Jackson would be in Manassas next day (Wednesday), and that Longstreet had not yet joined him, but was 2 miles from Salem at noon on Wednesday, the 27th.
In view of these facts I proposed to General McDowell, to whose command the First Corps had been attached since its arrival at Waterloo Bridge, to concentrate our forces at Gainesville, and thereby separate Longstreet's troops from those of Jackson, taking the enemy at Manassas, in the rear, and by forcing him to evacuate Manassas effect a junction with the army of General McClellan. This movement was executed.
On the morning of the 27th the First Corps left Warrenton for Buckland