War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0530 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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most positive, imperative, and also distrustful in its terms. But those very terms served to show only the more forcibly that the order was based upon a total misapprehension of the essential facts, without which misapprehension it would not seem possible that such an order could have been issued. The well-established military rule is that such an order must never be obeyed until the commander who gave it has been informed of his error and given an opportunity to correct it; but, upon close examination, the opposite view of Porter's conduct under this order appears to be the just one.

Porter had repeatedly reported to McDowell the presence of the enemy in large force in his front. Presumably these reports had gone to Pope, as one of them had in fact. Porter had also sent an aide-de-camp with a written message to Pope about 4 p. m., and had sent written reply to the 4.30 p. m. order after 6.30 p.m. These last two dispatches have not been preserved by General Pope, and hence their contents are now known to us; but we are bound to presume that they reported the situation as Porter then knew it, and as he had frequently reported it to McDowell, and the last of these dispatches, in reply to the 4.30 p. m. order, was later than the latest of those in which Porter has spoken of any intention to fall back. Hence Porter had already given to his superior all the information which it was possible for him to give, and nothing remained for him but to obey the order. This movement of Porter's corps on the morning of the 30th was the beginning of the unfortunate operation of that day. This corps, which had been protecting the left flank of Pope's army, was withdrawn from its important position, laving the left wing and flank exposed to attack by greatly superior force of the enemy, brought to the center of the field and then ordered "in pursuit of the enemy."



Numbers --.

August 30, 1862-12 m.

The following forces will be immediately thrown forward in pursuit of the enemy and press him vigorously during the whole day. Major-General McDowell is assigned to the command of the pursuit; Major-General Porter's corps will push forward on the Warrenton turnpike, followed by the divisions of Brigadier-Generals King and Reynolds. The division of Brigadier-General Ricketts will pursue the Hay Market road, followed by the corps of Major-General Heintzelman. The necessary cavalry will be assigned to these columns by Major-General McDowell, to whom regular and frequent reports will be made. The general headquarters will be somewhere on the Warrenton turnpike.

By command of Major-General Pope:


Colonel and Chief of Staff.


Major-General McDowell, being charged with the advanced forces ordered to pursue the enemy, directs me to inform you that your corps will be followed immediately by King's division, supported by Reynolds. Heintzelman, with his corps, preceded by Ricketts' division, will move on your right, on the road from Sudley Springs to Hay Market. He is instructed to throw our skirmishers to the left, which is desirable you should join with your right. General McDowell's headquarters will be at the head of Reynolds' division, on the Warrenton road. Organize a strong advance to precede your command, and push on rapidly in pursuit of the enemy until you come in contact with him. Report frequently. Bayard's brigade will be ordered to report to you; push it well to the left as you advance.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel and Chief of Staff.

Major-General PORTER, Commanding, &c.

These orders led to an attack upon the Confederate left wing, Jack-