had just succeeded Johnston
in command of the Confederate army; McClellan
was gathering his strength for the long-promised spring upon Richmond
had swooped, with his bold troopers, from the Chickahominy
to the James
was sweeping down from the Valley
to add Blucher
's vim to Wellington
's attack upon the young Napoleon
It was the eve of the mighty conflict which for seven days surged and thundered around the Southern
capital; and to the grand game, in which life, and death, and national existence were to be the stakes, there came, on either side, troops whose mettle was yet to be thoroughly tested, and officers to whom, with few exceptions, belonged, as yet, only the name of generals.
In the fearful ordeal how many passed scathless through the storm of shot and shell, and yet went down, no more to rise?
Reading over, now, the roster of both armies, one wonders what became of men who brought to those scenes such magnificent reputations, and who left them never more to protrude their overestimated heads above the surface of events.
Here was the first great winnowing field, and the guns were great threshing-machines, before which the chaff and the wheat were separated as though by magic.
But from the pounding process came also forth the fair, round grain, that was henceforth to be the sustenance and reliance of Union and Confederacy.
's plan of attack contemplated the turning of McClellan
's right flank by Jackson
's movement through Hanover
A. P. Hill
was stationed on the left of the Confederate
lines, fronting the Federal
intrenchments at Mechanicsville
, and was expected to await the uncovering of his front by Jackson
and D. H. Hill
, and then to cross the Chickahominy
and sweep to the right, down that wing of McClellan
's army which rested on the north side of the river.
The morning of the 26th of June was fixed as the time when the flanking column should arrive upon the field, but General Jackson
was delayed by ignorance of the country and the inefficiency of his guides, and only came in sight of the enemy's position at a late hour in the afternoon.
Then he found the bridge across Tattopottamoy creek destroyed, and was forced, while repairing it, to content himself with an artillery fire upon the Federal
But at the sound of this cannonading Hill
sent his front brigades into action, captured with a dash the works in front of Mechanicsville
, swept over and down the river, carrying all before him until the fortifications on Beaver Dam creek
barred further progress and night fell upon his impatient energy.
At early dawn a new assault was' made and sustained with great gallantry but unsupported for two hours, at the end of which,