And he left him, at about 12 o'clock, with the belief and understanding that he would put in his force at that point. Why this expectation was doomed to disappointment may possible be gathered from the following extract from General McDowell's testimony as to what occurred during his conversation with the accused:
Question. You have said that the accused made an observation to you which showed that he was satisfied that the enemy was in his immediate front; will you state what that observation was?
Answer. I do not know that I can repeat it exactly, and I do not know that the accused meant exactly what the remark might seem to imply. The observation was to this effect [putting his hand in the direction of the dust rising above the troops of the trees], "We cannot go in there anywhere without getting into a fight."
Question. What reply did you make to that remark?
Answer. I think to this effect: "That is what we came here for."
These words will certainly stand in memorable contrast with the sad utterance to which they were a reply.
General McDowell, on parting wit the accused, ceased to exercise any authority over his command, and he was thus left untrammeled, and in possession of the joint order, still in full force. Soon after General Griffin's brigade - a part of the corps of the accused - was ordered to move to the right, as if for the purpose of advancing on the enemy, as directed by General McDowell. It had proceeded, however, only about 600 yards, when, coming into "some small pine bushes," and somebody saying there were obstacles ahead, a retreat was ordered, and they fell back to their original position. General Griffin saw no obstacles himself, and he made no reconnaissance. This was all that was done toward carrying into effect the stirring and soldierly direction of General McDowell.
Some time after this faint demonstration - it may have been an hour or more, General McDowell having left at about 12 - a rebel battery threw three or four shot at the head of the accused's column. It was at once replied to and silenced, and then came the order to fall back, of which Colonel B. F. Smith, who witnessed the artillery firing, speaks so distinctly. The not of the accused to Generals McDowell and King, which was read in evidence and is without date, must have been written immediately after this artillery firing, and after the order to retreat which followed it. It is in the following words:
General McDOWELL and KING:
I found it impossible to communicate by crossing the roads to Groveton. The enemy are in strong force on this road, and, as they appear to have driven our forces back, the firing of the enemy having advanced and our arrived, I have determined to withdraw to Manassas. I have attempted to communicate with McDowell and Sigel, but my messengers have run into the enemy. They have gathered artillery and cavalry infantry, and the advancing masses of dust show the enemy coming in force. I am now going to the head of the column, to see what is passing and how affairs are going. Had you not better send your train back? I will communicate with you.
F. J. PORTER,
This note appears to have been written for the purpose of explaining why the accused had not "put his force in" at the place which General McDowell had pointed out. It announces most energetically a determination "to withdraw" -i.e., retreat - to Manassas, because of the approach of the enemy, and because the battle seemed to be going against the Federal forces. That this purpose was promptly carried out, substantially, if not to the letter, is made evident from the fact