Thursday, July 21, 2011

11:30 am: Confederates retreat from Matthew's Hill

Matthew’s Hill
James Fry, McDowell’s chief of staff, received a message that had been telegraphed to Centreville from Winfield Scott. It warned that Robert Patterson had been duped and was all alone near Martinsburg and that Johnston may soon be joining Beauregard at Manassas (the column of dust that Johnston had thought was Patterson would turn out to be his own baggage train). It would still be a little while longer before prisoners could confirm for Fry that Johnston was already there.

The entire Second Division was now in battle and it was beginning to make a difference. McDowell sensed that Evans, Bee, and Bartow couldn’t last much longer and told the two brigades of the Third Division, crossing Sudley Ford, to hurry. One of their regiments fell into line to the left of Burnside’s brigade and was surprised to find the 69th New York from Sherman’s brigade on the west side of Bull Run.

The Confederate position on Matthew’s Hill collapsed. With little to no organization the men fell back to the Warrenton Turnpike and on to Henry Hill, some fighting in little groups, some throwing aside their muskets and running. The Union men surged after them, down Matthew’s Hill until well-aimed artillery fire from the mixed Confederate regiment known as Hampton’s Legion from the Robinson House near the base of Henry Hill made them pause.

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