Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 34.djvu/265
Men of Virginia at Ball's Bluff. 257
Apart from the necessity of guarding his flank and watching the ferries, the Confederate commander realized the importance of keeping open the turnpike leading from Leesburg across the Blue Ridge to the lower Shenandoah Valley, where Jackson was operat- ing, and saving for his army the abundant supplies of the fertile Piedmont counties.
THE SEVENTH BRIGADE.
To compass these ends, Colonel Hunton had been ordered earlv in August to reoccupy Leesburg with the Eighth Virginia Regiment, and later on three Mississippi regiments the Thirteenth, Seven- teenth and Eighteenth under Colonels Barksdale, Featherstone and Burt with six guns of the Richmond Howitzers and three com- panies of Virginia cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Jenifer, were sent to the same place, and organized as the Seventh Brigade of Beauregard's Corps, under command of Colonel N. G. Evans, of South Carolina, who had won great distinction at the first battle of Manassas, and for which he was afterward made a brigadier- general.
Evans thought Leesburg was too much exposed and too far away for timely reinforcement in case of attack by a largely superior force, and had withdrawn his command to a strong position at Carter's Mill, seven miles nearer Manassas. Upon reporting this fact, General Beauregard wrote at once, asking the reason for his withdrawal, adding that the position he had occupied was "under- stood to be very strong, and the General hopes you will be able to maintain it against odds should the enemy press across the river and move in this direction. To prevent such a movement, and junction of Banks's forces with McClellan's is of the utmost military importance, and you will be expected to make a desperate stand, falling back only in the lace of an overwhelming enemy."
At midnight of the iQth, Evans moved his brigade back to Burnt Bridge, along the line of Goose Creek, where he had a line of intrenchments, and there awaited developments. His situation was now critical, and called for the same fine military foresight he had shown at first Manassas, where he disconnected McDowell's impos- ing feint at Stone bridge and met his main advance by way of Sudley Springs, some two miles beyond the Confederate flank.
On the morning of the 2Oth, McClellan telegraphed to Stone, at Poolesville, Md., that "General McCall occupied Draneville, yester-