Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 35.djvu/88
74 Southern Historical Society Papers.
infantry the loth Alabama, 6th South Carolina, nth Virginia, 1st Kentucky; one battery of four guns, the Sumter' Flying Artillery, of Georgia, Captain A. S. Cutts, and about 150 cavalry.
The two combatants, thus unexpectedly fronting one another, were both seized with consternation. Ord came to the conclu- sion that the Confederate force in his front had been sent out to intercept his retreat to camp and capture his command. Stuart, on the other hand, could only interpret the presence of such a large body of the enemy as an attempt of the Federals to capture his wagons and forage.
He fully realized the danger of his position, as his wagons were scattered about the country gathering hay and corn, while the enemy could easily interpose between him and Johnston's camp at Centreville.
Thus both commanders, misconceiving the purpose of the other, immediately took steps to avert the imagined danger. These precautionary measures brought on the collision which is dignified by the name of the battle of Dranesville. After the battle both sides laid claim to the victory. This is now easily understood, for Ord felt that the battle had saved his command and Stuart felt that it had saved all the wagons of Johnston's Army and a valuable amount of supplies. Each accomplished what he conceived to be the main purpose of the battle, which, after all, was a misconception on the part of both, as Ord was not in pursuit of Stuart's wagon train, and Stuart had no designs against Ord's line of retreat.
Ord, in entering the village and placing a section of his artillery on the church hill, had passed the junction of the two roads on the higher hill some 600 yards in his rear. This emi- nence, known as the Drane Hill, is pre-eminently the military key of the situation, as it commands al} of the surrounding country. Stuart knew this position well, and immediately started to gain it by a circuitous march through the woods around Ord's flank. Stuart afterward stated that, had he gained this point with his four regiments, he could have held the whole Federal Army in check.
Ord surmised, and surmised correctlv, that the Confederates