War of the Rebellion: Serial 017 Page 1127 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

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enemy's troops down at twice the number of the corps of the accused. It is obvious, however, that he was largely influenced in forming this opinion from the clouds of dust, which may have arisen as much from the movement of ambulances and wagons as from the march of troops. He states that they came from toward Thoroughfare Gap, and separated into two columns, one of which proceeded in the direction of the battle-field at Groveton, and the other came down on the Gainesville and Manassas road. Now, we learn from General Buford that the enemy's forces passing through Gainesville that day from Thoroughfare Gap, and counted by himself, did not exceed 14,000 men, and dividing these into two columns, it is believed that at no time on the 29th could the accused have been confronted by a rebel force exceeding 7,000 a little more than half the strength of his own corps. The strong probability is, that the force was not so large; but supposing the enemy to have had quite as large a force as his own, was that a reason why he should not make the attack, seeing that a severely contested battle was then pending?

The course of the inquiry on the part of the defense would seem to imply an impression that the accused could not attack the right flank because he found an enemy in his front,and could not attack the front because the order was to engage the right. A dead-lock, however, in military movements could scarcely be suffered to be produced by such a process at this. General McDowell solves this question by saying that if the enemy's forces were posted in the front of the accused in the manner indicated by the witnesses, they must have constituted his right flank, so that a movement in that direction would have been a literal compliance with the order.

A conclusive reply to the suggestion that the ground between the enemy and the accused was impracticable for military movements, is found in the testimony of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith. He says:

I infer that the corps of the accused could have moved, up its right wing joining with the forces engaged, and have flanked the enemy. This is not all an inference merely from the general character of the country. It is based, also, on the fact that that portion of the country over which, as I understand it, the corps of the accused would have moved upon the enemy, was sufficiently practicable to enable the enemy as they did, to make a similar movement on our left on the next day.

Some of the witnesses of the accused declare that artillery could not have passed over this ground, which others testified that infantry could not have been marched through the woods in any order. Under a cross-examination, however, the obstacles on which these opinions were based were much reduced in the attempt to enumerate them. The general description of the country given is that it is open, with fields and woods and occasional ravines, but not remarkable for its ruggedness. There were no impassable streams, or morasses, or precipices. General McDowell deposed that he did not consider that there were any insuperable obstacles-

in the way of the advance on the part of General Porter's command upon the flank of the enemy.

And he proved the sincerity of this opinion by directing him to make the movement. After reciting in detail certain facts leading to this belief, he thus concludes:

These movements by these two divisions of my corps, my own movements, and the movements of the enemy, give me the belief that troops could move through the country comprised between the Warrenton turnpike and the Sudley Springs road and the road from Bethlehem church to Gainesville. I will mention, further, that that country is a mixture of woods, cleared ground, and hills, and that it is easy for troops to march without being seen or seeing the enemy.