The withdrawal played out during the course of the night. According to Longstreet's aide, Tom Goree, "before midnight we had abandoned all the splendid positions (Mason's, Munson's & Upton's Hills) . . . which we held in front of the enemy and in sight of the Potomac & Washington." (in Cutrer 47.) The Confederate Army had surrendered the high ground without a fight.
The 17th Virginia was doing duty in Falls Church when the order came. The regiment marched about three miles outside of town and camped for the night, only to return the next day. The 17th finally left the town for Camp Harrison in Fairfax Court House on the twenty-ninth. A couple soldiers posted a note on the gate to The Falls Church addressed to prospective Union occupiers:
Having been resident denizens of Falls Church for some time, we to-day reluctantly evacuate, not because you intimidate by your presence, but only in obedience to military dictation. We leave you a fire to cook potatoes, also to warm by, as the nights are now uncomfortable on account of their chilling influence. (in Wallace 22.)Goree wrote that the Confederates regretted leaving the advanced positions, "not only on account of being so pleasantly situated, but we all liked the excitement which our proximity to the Yankees produced." (in Cutrer 47.) He wrongly speculated that "the move was a strategic one, made to try and induce the Yankees to make an advance on us and give us battle in an open field." (in Cutrer 47.)
|"General McClellan Occupying the Confederate Position at Munson's Hill," from a period engraving (courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery). The Union commander wasted no time in crossing the Potomac and riding out to the front upon learning that the Confederates had withdrawn from the area around Munson's Hill.|
Russel H. Beatie, Army of the Potomac: McClellan Takes Command: September 1861-February 1862(2002); Thomas W. Cutrer, Longstreet's Aide: The Civil War Letters of Thomas J. Goree (1995); Bradley E. Gernand, A Virginia Village Goes to War: Falls Church During the Civil War (2002); James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox (1896); George B. McClellan, McClellan's Own Story (1887); "Munson's Hill Evacuated by the Rebels," New York Times, Sept. 29, 1861; "The Occupation of Mason's Hill," New York Times, Oct. 2, 1861; Stephen W. Sears (ed.), The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan: Selected Correspondence 1860-1865 (1989); Lee A. Wallace, Jr., 17th Virginia Infantry, from the Virginia Regimental History Series (1990); Jeffry D. Wert, General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Solider (1994).