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[579] at nightfall1 from the enemy's front, reerossed the river unassailed, and, after pushing well east to avoid another charge on the flank of its long columns while extended in movement, again turned southward and took the road to Richmond: the 6th corps in advance, followed in succession by the 5th, 9th, and 2d: Hancock not starting till next morning; when Sheridan, with our cavalry in the advance, was, after a march of 22 miles, approaching the Pamunkey at Hanovertown. Wright's corps crossed directly, and took post to cover the fords; Warren's and Burnside's were over the next morning;2 Hancock crossed almost four miles higher; so that our whole army was south of the Pamunkey without loss, and in unobstructed communication with its new base at White House.

Lee had, as usual, a much shorter road, and was already in position on our new front; his army facing north-eastward, covering both railroads as well as the road to Richmond, and rendering it hazardous, if not impossible, to cross the Chickahominy on his right so as to interpose between him and the Confederate capital. Grant had shown at the North Anna his aversion to sacrificing the lives of his men when there was a practicable alternative; but now it seemed that the great object of the campaign positively required a disregard of the advantages of position possessed by the enemy. A spirited fight3 at Hawes's shop, on our front, wherein Sheridan, with the brigades of Davies, Gregg, and Custer, met and worsted the Rebel troopers under Fitzhugh Lee and Hampton — our loss being 400, and the enemy's 800--doubtless stimulated the general eagerness for battle. A reconnoissance in force along our front was accordingly made; developing the enemy's position across Tolopotomy creek, with its right on the Mechanicsville pike, near Bethesda church, where Col. Hardin's brigade of Reserves, Crawford's division, was struck4 on its flank by Rhodes's division of Ewell's corps, and hurried back to the Shady Grove road; where Crawford, bringing up the remainder of the Reserves and Kitching's brigade (of Warren's corps), repulsed Rhodes, and established our left on the Mechanicsville pike. Meantime, Hancock, on our right, had been stopped, after heavy skirmishing, at the Tolopotomy, finding the enemy in his front too strong and too well covered by defenses and a swamp; while Burnside had come into position on his left, and Wright on his right. Reconnoissances showed the enemy's position so unassailable in front that no course seemed open but an attempt to flank its right, crossing the Chickahominy opposite or just below Cold Harbor; a focus of roads which Sheridan had seized,5 after a brief skirmish, and on which the 6th corps, moving in the rear from our right to our left, was immediately directed; reaching it next day — just before Gen. W. F. Smith, with 10,000 men detached from Butler's army, and brought around by steamboats to White House, came up and took post on its right; and the two were met here by orders from Meade to advance and repel the enemy in their front, with a view to forcing a passage of the Chickahominy.

1 May 26.

2 May 28.

3 May 28, P. M.

4 May 29.

5 May 31.

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