attack our position in front, while Gen. Huger
's, on his right, was to move down the Charles City
road and come in on our left flank; and Gen. Gustavus W. Smith
was to move out on the New Bridge
road to Old Tavern
, taking thence the Ninemile
road to Fair Oaks Station, and so come in on our right.
The entire Rebel army defending Richmond
— some 40,000 to 50,000 strong — was either engaged in or supporting this movement, with Jefferson Davis
, Gen. Lee
, and other magnates, observing, directing, animating, and giving counsel.
The attacking columns were to move at day-break ;1
but the tremendous rains of the preceding afternoon and night had so flooded the earth as to render the moving of artillery exceedingly difficult; the infantry often wading through mud and water two or three feet deep.
's flank movement had not yet culminated, when Hill
, who had for some time waited impatiently in our immediate front, gave, at 1 P. M., the signal to his division to advance and attack.
's division was surprised as well as largely outnumbered.
Having been scarcely two days in. this position, their defensive works were