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PURSUIT OF THE ENEMY.
presumptuous foe. But the columns were quickly put in motion, and by midnight were all on the road to White Oak Swamp, General French bringing up the rear.
All night long the brave but weary columns toiled on through the forest, and just as the rays of the sun were tipping the tree tops, the last regiment crossed White Oak Swamp bridge, and then the bridge itself was destroyed.
One of the most difficult steps of the perilous feat which McClellan had attempted to perform was now accomplished. His trains were well on towards James River; the enemy in the rear were arrested in their pursuit, and he had now chiefly the forces sent down from Richmond to contend with, which were designed to fall on him in flank and cut his army in two. The enemy on the Chickahominy had two sides of a triangle to traverse to reach him by this route, while he had but one, so that though he had to delay his march till his immense trains got away, he was able to have heavy forces guarding the roads leading from Richmond on the farther side of the swamp.
In the meantime, as soon as daylight revealed to the enemy that Sumner had abandoned Savage Station, and fallen back through the swamp, he started in pursuit, but on finding the bridge destroyed was compelled to halt on the banks of the stream. Here, planting his batteries, he opened a furious artillery fire on Franklin, who with his division had been left to defend the crossing. But Keyes handled his artillery with a skill that baffled all his efforts.
BATTLE OF NELSON'S FARM AND GLENDALE.
But while Franklin was thus keeping back the enemy that had followed through the swamp from Savage Station, a fierce battle was raging farther on towards the James River, with a rebel army under A. P. Hill which had moved down
BATTLE OF GLENDALE.
from Richmond, between the swamp and river. The first road that intersected our line of march after crossing the White Oak Swamp was the Charles City road, and this Slocum was left to guard. Farther on towards the James, was the Newmarket road. McCall was posted on this, with Meade's brigade on his right, and Seymour's on his left; the batteries of Randall, Kern, Cooper, Dietrich and Kanehem all posted in front of the infantry line. The country was open in front, leaving a clean sweep for the artillery.
About three o'clock the enemy was seen moving in heavy force upon this position, and at the same time coming down the Charles City road on Slocum. Checked here by the artillery, they, a little later, fell with desperate fury on McCall's division. Right in the face of the death-dealing batteries they advanced with grand, heroic courage, and though swept by the storm of grape and canister, closed up their rent columns and still faced the fiery sleet without flinching. The slaughter was frightful, but making good the losses with fresh troops, the rebel leaders pressed this devoted division with such fury that at length it was compelled to fall back. The gallant, fiery leaders, Hooker and Kearney, were hurried to the rescue, and falling with their weary, heroic columns on the shouting, victorious enemy, hurled him back stunned and astonished. The battle lasted till after dark, and again the Union troops had showed their indomitable valor. Here Burns again distinguished himself, and here the Sixty-third Pennsylvania, under Colonel Hays, and the Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers covered themselves with glory, for by their rapid volleys and desperate charge, they repelled the third attack, though made by overwhelming lumbers. There was fighting everywhere to-day. The rebel artillery was thundering on our rear guard at White Oak Swamp bridge; where the roads crossed at right angles our line of march, a fierce battle was raging; while, at the same
JAMES RIVER REACHED.
time the enemy came down on Porter already on the James, to help whom, the gunboats opened with their ponderous guns, sending their awful missiles of death through the astonished hostile lines. The latter, maddened that the foe was about to escape them, resolved at whatever sacrifice of life to break through our long line at some point, and thundered on it from the middle of the swamp to the James River with frightful energy. The whole country was dark with his moving masses, and the summer sun went down in an ocean of rolling smoke, that heaved and rifted before the deafening explosions which made the earth tremble. Our wearied, hungry troops moved amid this carnival of death with a heroism that mocked at numbers, and made that last day of June one long to be remembered. The burdened earth turned red with the blood of the slain, but still our flag floated triumphantly over the field. McCall fell into the hands of the enemy, and Heintzelman, who was in chief command of the troops, began at midnight to fall back towards the James, on the banks of which our trains were now rapidly gathering. Franklin also retired, and McClellan ordered the whole army to fall back to Malvern Hill. He had selected this as the key to his position. Although he had given General Barnard, Engineer-in-chief, special orders as to the location of the troops as fast as they arrived, he on the morning of the first of July, made the entire circuit of the position himself with some of his general officers, to see that no mistake should occur.
BATTLE OF MALVERN HILL.
McClellan had been for the last three days fighting at fearful disadvantages, for his army lay scattered all the way from White Oak Swamp to the James River,-a line too long to be held throughout by his enfeebled army, and yet
DESCRIPTION OF MALVERN HILL.
which could not be shortened without peril. The communication with the river must be kept up on account of his transports, the trains be protected, the enemy in the rear held back, and all the roads coming down from Richmond strongly guarded; hence, when the enemy appeared in overwhelming numbers at any given point, the wearied troops guarding it were compelled to hold it till reinforcements could be hurried up from some other point. But now all this was changed. He had his noble army once more well in hand, and concentrated where it could strike its powerful blows like a single engine. But the rebels had also concentrated their forces, outnumbering his own, two to one, and was preparing to make one last great effort to wring victory from the hand of adverse fate.
Malvern Hill, on 'which McClellan had drawn up his wearied but unconquerable host, is a plateau about a mile and a half long, and three-quarters of a mile wide, with several roads, converging to a single point, running over it. On the side towards the river, the slope ended in a deep ravine, which stretched to the shore. Here Porter was posted, with one brigade in the plain, to check any flanking movement; and here, too, in the stream, were stationed the gunboats, under Commodore Rodgers, for the purpose of nurling their ponderous shells into the advancing columns of the enemy. In front were several ravines, furnishing natural obstacles to an approaching enemy, while the ground sloped away, giving a clean sweep for the artillery. On this plateau McClellan massed his splendid artillery, at least three hundred guns, frowning, like a brow of wrath, on the plain below, while on the highest point, dominating all, Col. Tyler had planted ten of his heavy siege guns. - This officer had made almost superhuman efforts to save his unwieldy siege train amid the struggling mass that crowded the road through White Oak Swamp, and had succeeded with the
POSITION OF THE ARMY.
loss of only three guns, which had broken down, and so could not be brought off. Justly proud of his achievement, he now determined they should no longer remain useless burdens, and dragged these ten pieces to the top of the hill, that their voices should first speak in the coming conflict.
McClellan had not enough men to make his whole line of battle strong as it ought to be, and so he massed his main force to the north and east, conjecturing the weight of attack would come from that quarter-against his left wing. The pursuing force coming from White Oak Swamp, and that rushing down from Richmond, he thought, would make the attack in that direction, instead of losing time by swinging round down stream to the right wing, which would endanger their own communication with the Capital.
In front of Porter's division, the artillery was so posted that the tremendous fire of sixty cannon could be concentrated on any single point, and made that grim chieftain feel that the troops which could reach him must be something more than flesh and blood. Sykes commanded his left, and Moren, his right divisions; Couch came next, and after him, Kearney and Hooker, then Sedgwick and Richardson, Smith and Slocum, strong leaders every one, on whom their chieftain could in that last trying hour rely with unbounded trust. A portion of Keyes' Corps finished the line, that curved back nearly to the river again below, in a huge semicircle. The shattered, mutilated Pennsylvania reserve corps was stationed behind Porter and Couch as a reserve.
Thus stood the immortal army of the Potomac on the first of July. When all was completed, McClellan, with his brilliant Staff, galloped along the mighty line, followed by the deafening cheers of his devoted battalions, who felt that they were to fight once more under his immediate eye. Seeing, at a glance, that the fury of the storm, as he had conjectured, was to burst on his left, he took his station there.