lowed that division of the enemy's troops to pass him unmolested, and then fell back and retreated toward Manassas Junction; that Porter then remained in the rear all the afternoon, listening to the sounds of battle and coolly contemplating a presumed defeat of his comrades on the center and right of the field; that this division of the enemy having passed Porter's column and formed on the right of Jackson's line, near Groveton, an order was sent to Porter to attack the right flank or rear of the enemy's line, upon which his own line of march must bring him, but that the had willfully disobeyed, and made no attempt to execute that order; that in this way was lost the opportunity to destroy Jackson's detached force before the other wing of General Lee's army could join it, and that this junction having been effected during the night of the 29th, the defeat of General Pope's army on the 30th thus resulted from General Porter's neglect and disobedience.
Now, in contrast to these fundamental errors, the following all-important facts are fully established:
As Porter was advancing toward Gainesville, and while yet nearly 4 miles from that place and more than 2 miles from the nearest point of the Warrenton turnpike, he met the right wing of the Confederate army, 25,000 strong, which had arrived on the field that morning and was already in line of battle. Not being at that moment quite fully informed of the enemy's movements, and being then under orders from Pope to push rapidly toward Gainesville, Porter was pressing forward to attack the enemy in his front, when McDowell arrived on the field with later information of the enemy, and later and very different orders from Pope, assumed the command, and arrested Porter's advance. This latter information left no room for doubt that the main body of Lee's army was already on the field and far in advance of Pope's army in preparation for battle. General McDowell promptly decided not to attempt to go farther to the front, but to deploy his column so as to form line in connection with General Pope's right wing, which was then engaged with Jackson. To do this General McDowell separated his corps entirely from General Porter's, and thus relinquished the command and all right to the command of Porter's corps. McDowell did not give Porter's any order to attack, nor did he give him any order whatever to govern his action after their separation.
It does not appear from the testimony that he conveyed to General Porter in any way the erroneous view of the military situation which was afterward maintained before the court-martial, nor that he suggested to General Porter any expectation that he would make an attack. On the contrary the testimony of all the witnesses as to what was actually said and done; the information which McDowell and Porter then had respecting the enemy, and the movement which McDowell decided to make, and did make, with his own troops, prove conclusively that there was left no room for doubt in Porter's mind that his duty was to stand on the defensive and hold his position until McDowell's movement could be completed. It would have indicated a great error of military judgment to have done or ordered the contrary, in the situations as then fully known to both McDowell and Porter.
General Pope appears from his orders and from his testimony to have been at that time wholly ignorant of the true situation. He had disapproved of the sending of Ricketts to Thoroughfare Gap to meet Longstreet on the 28th, believing that the main body of Lee's army could not reach the field of Manassas before the night of the 30th. Hence he sent the order to Porter dated 4.30 p. m., to attack Jackson's right flank or rear. Fortunately that order did not reach Porter until about