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River railroad and Williamsburg turnpike running near each other — the space between this and the third finger, the White Oak Swamp
the finger itself, the Charles City turnpike south of it, and the little finger the Derbytown road, still nearer the James River. By these two latter roads, the rebels could swarm from Richmond, and fall on the heads of columns as they emerged from White Oak Swamp, should McClellan attempt to retreat towards the James River.
As soon as Lee ascertained that McDowell was not to advance to the aid of McClellan, and the country was clear around the right flank of the latter, he called in all his troops from the northern part of Virginia, including Stonewall Jackson, till he had a force in hand nearly double that of the Union army. With this, he resolved at once to fall on McClellan, and utterly destroy his whole army. The plan he adopted was a very simple one, and almost certain of success. It was to send an entire army beyond the Chickahominy, and with a single blow, crush the compara: tively small force there, and keeping down its banks, get between McClellan and the White House, and thus cut off supplies and starve him into a surrender, or crush him ka. tween the two armies in front and rear-each equal to his entire force.
If in this dilemma, he should attempt to move off towards James River, through White Oak Swamp, he was to be received beyond it, by heavy columns from Richmond, which occupying all the roads, should hem him in in that direction, so that no supplies could reach him from any quarter. It was a gigantic scheme, and complete in every part, while the means were at hand to carry it into successful execution. Nothing but the most consummate generalship, and the steadi. est troops, could extricate the American commander from the terrible position in which it would inevitably place him.
The main Union army, it will be remembered, was be
FLANK MOVEMENT OF THE ENEMY.
tween the Chickahominy and Richmond. Fitz John Porter, however, with the fifth corps, was on the north side - his communication with it preserved by numerous bridges. The first object of the enemy was to sweep this force away, and then keep down the river in our rear. At the same time he was to attack in front, to prevent reinforcements from being sent to Porter.
The storm which had been slowly gathering, at length, on the 26th of June, burst in all its fury on the devoted army. The day was clear and warm, and at about three o'clock in the afternoon, Jackson moved from Ashland down the Chickahominy. Driving our advanced pickets before him, he uncovered the bridge at Brook turnpike, and General Branch, who was on the opposite side, crossed over, and wheeling to the right, kept down the north bank a little in the rear of Jackson, who gradually worked off towards the Pamunkey. The two divisions kept on till they reached Meadow Bridge, from which they also swept all obstacles, and A. P. Hill, on the other side, crossed over and joined Branch. The three columns now moved down towards Mechanicsville - Jackson in advance, stretching off towards the Pamunkey to get in flank and rear, Branch next, and Hill last, resting his right on the Chickahominy. Thus moving en echelon, they advanced on the Union batteries and a fierce artillery action commenced, which shook the shores of the stream, and rolled in heavy thunder peals over the city of Richmond. But our troops were in a strong position along the left bank of Beaver Dam Creek, the left resting on the Chickahominy, and the right on a thick piece of woods. Seymour's brigade held the left, reaching from the river to a little beyond Ellison's Mills
woods and open ground alternating — and Reynolds the right, n mostly in the woods. Felled timbers an rifle 'pits strengthened the position, and the creek could be crossed by artillery, only
THE OPENING FIGHT.
on two roads, along which the fight chiefly ragea. Our batteries swept the ground beyond the creek, yet in face of their murderous fire the enemy advanced intrepidly towards the stream, making his most desperate effort along the upper road, where Reynolds was posted. The struggle was fierce but short, and the rebel host surged back. Deter. mined, however, to carry the position at whatever cost, the rebel leaders, under a fierce artillery fire along their whole line, massed their troops for another attack. With shouts and yells that rose over the roar of cannon, they again advanced, only to be mowed down with terrible slaughter from the steady murderous fire poured in from Seymour's brigade. The battle raged for six hours, or until nine o'clock at night, when the enemy retired.
. McClellan now ascertained that Jackson was moving rapidly down on his communications, far to the right of Porter, and directed him to fall back, while the heavy guns and
wagons were sent across the river.
BATTLE OF GAINES' MILL.
At Gaines' Mill a second position was taken, so as to cover the bridges, while Stoneman, who had been in command of a flying column to protect Porter's fank, was sent off to. wards the White House, to prevent its being cut off by Jackson.
"Ehe new position was the arc of a circle, and opposite the army of McClellan, on the other side of the stream. Morell's division held the left of this line, which extended about a mile and a half, its extremity resting on the slope that descended to the stream, and commanded by Butterfield. Martindale came next, and then Griffin, who touched the left of Sykes' division, which extended to the rear of Cold Harbor. Each brigade had two regiments in reserve.
BATTLE OF GAINES' MILL
McCall's division, which had been heavily engaged the day before, formed a second line in rear, with Meade's brigade on the left, near the Chickabominy, and Reynolds' on the right. Seymour was held in reserve in the rear. The artillery was posted on the elevations around, and in the spaces between the divisions and brigades.
This was the position of that part of the army which was on the north side of the stream at noon, on the 27th of June. The enemy, relying on his superior numbers, ad. vanced with such determination upon our line of battle, that by two o'clock, Porter sent to McClellan for reinforcements and more axes, to complete his defences. General Barnard, by whom the order was sent, never delivered it, - an act of disobedience or neglect, meriting the severest condemnation,
and by three o'clock, Porter was so fiercely pushed, that the entire second line and the reserves had to be ordered forward to support the first. An half hour later, Slocum's division reached him, having been hurried across the bridges by McClellan as soon as he heard of Porter's sore need. When it came into action, Porter's whole force numbered about thirty-five thousand men, while that of the enemy was full sixty thousand, if not more. With bis overwhelming numbers, he dashed now on one portion of the line, and now on another, each time repulsed with terrible slaughter. But our troops, most of which had been severely tasked by the previous day's fighting, were rapidly becoming' exhausted, and at five o'clock an officer dashed into McClellan's head. quarters, with an urgent demand for more reinforcements, as the day was going against them. McClellan had already sent all that he felt he could spare, for an overwhelming force was on his side of the river also, ready to swoop down on him, the moment his exhausted numbers gave them the opportunity. : And yet so pressing was the danger, that he sent over French's and Meagher's brigades.
THE POSITION AT EVENING.
The scene which the battle field presented at this moment was one of imposing grandeur, Thirtyfive thousand exhausted, beleagured men, enveloped in the smoke of their own guns, stood bravely battling against twice their num. ber, that darkened all the surrounding country with their moving masses. The last of our reserves are in, and have been for some time, and now the enemy is moving up his own for a final assault. The thunder of artillery, which has been breaking along the whole line for four long hours, is redoubled, while the crash of musketry, fierce, rapid and incessant, tells the Commander-in-chief, that the final hour
Oh for but ten thousand of those forty thous. and of McDowell's, fatally held back in this hour of ter. rible need, and the victory would be sure. But alas, they are lounging idly in their camps on the banks of the Rappa. hannock, while their brave comrades here are falling thick as autumn leaves, in a vain attempt to uphold the honor of the flag.
The summer sun was sinking in the western sky, which without a cloud, looked like a sea of blood through the smoke of battle that filled the air. In the valley, the long line of lancers might be seen, their pennons fluttering in the breeze, waiting the pealing bugle note that shall send them headlong on the heavy battalions, — their sabre-points sending long lines of light over the green fields, dotted with groves on every side, while the gentle stream, reflecting the crimson light, murmurs gently along as though its sweet music was 'not drowned in the wild uproar that shakes its banks. It is a placid summer evening, and a beautiful land. scape spreads away on every side, but the eye of the commander sees naught of this. His swelling heart is ready to burst, as he sees the ever-increasing flood of the enemy, and no troops with which to stem it. Ob-for night to come! was his mental exclamation. But it is all in vain. The