of the 26th, directing Porter
to make as imposing a demonstration and detain the enemy as long as he could, then to withdraw across the Chickahominy
with the least possible loss, burn the bridges, and defend the passage till night-fall, he might have gone right over the 25,000 Rebels between him and Richmond
, taken that city, and then turned in overwhelming force on the 50,000 Rebels in his rear, pressing Porter
But, deceived and faint-hearted, he stood perplexed and hesitating between the real and overwhelming attack on his right and the imposing but hollow succession of feints and alarms on his left, letting two-thirds of Lee
's entire force crush one third of his own, while 60,000 good men and true stood idle between the Chickahominy
, watching and guarding against 25,000 Rebels.
's division of Sumner
's corps was seasonably sent to the aid of Porter
, raising his total free to barely 35.000 men, who were to resist the desperate efforts of 50,000 Rebels, directed by Lee
, and led on to assault our position by Longstreet
, the Hills
, Stonewall Jackson
, and Ewell
Though the Rebels
had quickly discerned and sharply pursued our withdrawal from the Mechanicsville
defenses, arriving in front of our new position soon after noon,1
it was 2 P. M. before A. P. Hill
, who had been awaiting Jackson
's arrival, advanced and opened the battle.
The Rebels were received with heroic bravery by Sykes
's regulars, who confronted them, by whose fire they were staggered and temporarily repulsed.
, who had been ordered to make a feint on our left, had perceived the necessity of converting that feint into a determined attack; but, before his dispositions had been completed, Jackson
arrived and formed his division on Longstreet
's left; while D. H. Hill
, on the extreme Rebel left, had forced his way through a swamp and some abatis, driving out our skirmishers; and now Ewell
came into action on Jackson
's right, and two of Jackson
's brigades were sent to the relief of A. P. Hill
, who was being worsted.
's whole force being thus brought into action, a general advance from left to right was ordered and made, under a terrific fire of cannon and musketry from both sides.
had a strong position, on ground rising gradually from the ravine of an inconsiderable stream, screened in part by trees and underbrush, with Morell
's and Sykes
's divisions in front, and McCall
's forming a second line behind them; and his cavalry, under P. St. George Cooke
, in the valley of the Chickahominy
, watching for a Rebel advance in that quarter.
The siegeguns of Porter
's corps, which had been withdrawn across the Chickahominy
during the night, were planted in battery on the right bank of that stream, so as to check the advance of the Rebel
right, and prevent their turning our left.
was unaccountably in want of axes, where — with to cover his front and right with abatis; his request for them to Gen. Barnard
not reaching McClellan
till too late.
When he next called.
they were furnished, but without helves;
and, while these were being supplied, the opportunity for using axes was