The train reached Bealton Station, north of the Rappahannock river, a little before dark. The harbingers of a retreating army were beginning to troop in from the front. The army of the Potomac was falling back toward the fastnesses of Centerville, the army of Northern Virginia in close pursuit.
It is needless to say that, with the exception of one or two small divisions, no reinforcements reached him within that time; and although General Porter reported to him by letter from Bealton on the 25th, it had been better for General Pope had he not come at all.
The battle ended about the time our train reached Bealton, so Storrs and I missed the opportunity of taking part in one of the most memorable contests of the civil war. After a night on the platform of the railroad station, we started at dawn to find the brigade.
We were out three days on this scout, going to Kelly's Ford, Gainesville, Bealton Station, and traversing the ground where Pope's battle of the Second Bull Run was fought, returning by the most direct route to the right of Warrenton. The march was so rapid that the trains were left behind and a good portion of the time we were without forage or food. The horses were fed but once on the trip.
Drivers cursing, cannon rattling, soldiers singing and shouting, horses racing, and all that sublime confusion which can never be seen except in a hasty but well directed retreat of a vast army. We passed Warrenton Junction and Bealton Station, and at eight o'clock halted near Kettle Run, having marched more than thirty miles within twenty-four hours.