and battery to reap the terrible slaughter which was inevitable from the superiority of the position which McClellan
had chosen for his last stand.
At sunset they retired from our front, through the woods toward Richmond
During the night and on the following morning, Tuesday, July 2, our army was moving down the James
to Harrison's Landing
and the vicinity.
Copious showers during the night, with floods of water collecting in pools in every shallow depression, and then streaming over the surface and down slopes, had rendered the sacred soil both divisible and adhesive; and as the clouds still lowered over the roads and fields, the sun's rays failed to evaporate the moisture and dry the mud, so the feet of the men, the hoofs of the horses, and the weight of the wheels, ploughed through the muck and mire of the roads, and converted the sward and turf of the fields into a paste.
Yet the freshened vegetation along the route, moist with dampness, was odorously agreeable to our senses.
We plodded along at various rates of speed: now a walk, now a trot, then a halt, then a slow, hardly perceptible movement, then a rapid motion, as if we were struck with compunction for having tarried at all, and felt bound to make amends.
The topography of the north bank of the James
, below Malvern Hill
, is not unlike that of the south bank of the York
: reedy, marshy bottom lands extend along its shore, now and then breaking into the high upland, inland; the river throwing an arm into this marshy indentation, back, irregularly, for miles; the arm being met at its head by a stream,—the whole system constituting a tributary of the great river.
Below Harrison's Landing
, and north of the mouth of the Chickahominy
, the bottom lands this side penetrate the shore for several miles, bending northwest from the river, skirting, on the northwest, high bluffs grown up with oak, holly, and wild cherry interspersed with underbrush, with magnolias growing at the swampy base.
Through acres of this marsh land extends Herring Run Creek
, for a large portion of its course clinging closely to the foot of the bluff on its north side.
On this bluff, or rather on the open plateau whose shoulder it is, was the right of McClellan
's army, during the weeks that intervened between the battle of Malvern Hill
and the northward movement of Lee
Ascending from the river road to the