It was high noon when the two Confederate generals appeared on the field. The battle lasted until three. The hottest fighting was for the possession of the Henry plateau which the Union troops had seized. At two oclock Beauregard gave the order to advance to recover the plateau. The charge was made with spirit. Jacksons brigade pierced the Union centre at the bayonets point; the other troops moved forward with equal vigor, broke the Union lines and swept them back from the open ground of the plateau. The Union troops rallied, recovered their ground and drove the Confederates from the plateau into the woods beyond. McDowell, who had this part of the field immediately under his own eye, thought this last repulse final and that the day was his.
Jefferson Davis, too anxious to remain in Richmond, went by rail to the scene of action. As he approached Manassas railroad junction he saw a cloud of dust raised by wagons that had been sent to the rear and heard distinctly the sound of firing. At the junction were a large number of men who had left the field in panic and who now gave Davis graphic accounts of the defeat of the army. He asked a gray-bearded man whose calm face and composed demeanor inspired confidence, how the battle had gone? Our line was broken, came the reply; all was confusion, the army routed and the battle lost. The conductor of the train refused to go farther but, on Daviss stern insistence, detached the locomotive and ran it to the headquarters, where Davis found horses for himself and his aide; two officers guided him thence toward the battle-field. On the way, he met a large number of stragglers and received frequent