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[331] as in line of battle. Artillery in front on the ascents; infantry behind in line, with stacked arms, while in a little plain on the right of the ground were placed the cavalry, horses saddled and bridled, and the men ready to mount at the first trumpet-note. The horses of the caissons were kept harnessed and in their traces, and all betokened a fight on the ground thus selected and so strongly guarded, or else a move in order of battle As I looked upon the array and pondered, I asked myself, What can the General mean by a halt of this kind — intended for rest, and yet every thing betokening preparations for battle? The strategy of the great Theban general suggested itself to my memory — a strategy by which Leuctra and other famous battles were won, and which was unknown before his day — that was of always marching his army in the order in which he intended to fight it.

Scarcely had the General made, as all supposed, his final dispositions for the evening, when Colonel West, whose brigade — he acting as brigadiergeneral — held still the front, was ordered to advance on the direct road to Bottom Bridge. Instantly the brigade was in motion. But a moment before it occupied a slight elevation over a plain which stretched away to the south for a mile and a half, a small opening in the woods in front, and which the eye, without the aid of a glass, could not discern, giving the only opening to the road. The artillery are moving down the plain, the cavalry are skirting the woods on West's left flank, a dark line of single skirmishers are seen cautiously approaching the woods in front. At that wood, from the copse on the extreme left and front, is seen a party of the enemy. They.dash on almost as quickly as the exclamation broke from the lips of several near me: “There they go!” The skirmishers fire, and right before them, yet some distance off, appears a line of rebel skirmishers. Stray pops of musketry tell that the skirmishers are engaged. Our boys keep going ahead; the others fall back into the gloom of the woods and disappear. Our skirmishers are called in, and take their places behind the line of battle, which was now formed. In front was Minks's battery, First New-York artillery, supported by the One Hundred and Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, with cavalry a little to the rear and rather to the right of the line. The rebel fire on our left, from the woods, was at one time pretty brisk, when it would suddenly die away, to be renewed on our front.

The fire of the skirmishers drew General Keyes rapidly to the scene. Apparently a glance told him what was likely to come, and back he galloped to the ground occupied by the main body of his forces. Orders were despatched with surprising readiness and coolness, and order of battle was again formed. This was done by merely ordering the supporting forces to positions on readier supporting distance of the advance line than some of them previously occupied.

The ground here represented a greater inequality of surface than that where the front line was formed. On the rising ground, some six or seven hundred yards to the rear of these regiments, was posted McKnight's battery, supported by the gallant Fourth Delaware, Colonel Grimshaw, ready and eager for a grapple with the foe. Still on to the left of these, where the woods offered, ;I splendid chance to the rebels for a flank movement, were posted, in the same order, other troops. These dispositions were made with wonderful celerity, and almost in as short a time as is taken to explain them here, they were concluded, and General Keyes again appeared on the scene of conflict.

The rebels still sustained their fire, but not in such volume, or with the rapidity they did at first. Up to this time only one of our men had fallen. This was one of the cavalry videttes, watching the woods on the left of the line. He was shot in the head, the ball striking him in the left eye. He fell dead from his horse. Six others of the cavalry were wounded, but none seriously. The poor fellow fell in the discharge of his duty, in the presence of all in the field.

General Keyes having now returned, role to the front, attended by his staff. He passed first to the right of the line, and having surveyed the ground, rode quietly along to the extreme left, where the fire from the first was the warmest. Our guns now threw shot at longer intervals, the enemy's replies dying gradually away. For nearly an hour longer the line was preserved, when it opened from the centre and the cavalry advanced. The rebels, seeing themselves foiled in enticing our troops into the treacherous woods, evidently gave the hope up; and as they ceased to show themselves the troops were ordered back to the position first occupied by them as the advance. This was the rising ground overlooking the plain where the skirmishers first encountered The remainder of the forces also retired to their previous positions, and the excitement which the prospect of an imminent engagement always ereates gradually subsided. In an hour after ward General Keyes and staff for the first time that day sat down on the grass and partook of some refreshment.

Toward the close of the skirmishing in front Adjutant Frank Robinson, of the Fifth Pennsylvania, while executing some order of General Keyes, visited the extreme point of ground occupied by our videttes, members of his own regiment. While here he observed a rebel come out of the woods, having his musket at the aim and ready to fire. With a shout Robinson and his orderly made a dash at him, the former revolver in hand. The word was surrender or die, and the frightened rebel chose the former, gave up his gun, and was escorted within our lines. When brought before General Keyes he said that he belonged to one of the North-Carolina regiments that had been brought from the Blackwater to the defence of Richmond. He belonged to Hampton's Legion. He stated that there was a large force in our front, who were continually shifting their position on the Chickahominy. The bridges, he said, had been all repaired, and bodies of troops frequently crossed and recrossed them.

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