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[130] I hoped that their advance would give us an opportunity to make a successful attack upon these two corps, by increasing the interval between them and the larger portion of their army remaining beyond the Chickahominy.

On the 24th their leading troops encountered Hatton's Tennessee brigade, of Smith's division, within three miles of Seven Pines, and were driven back by it, after a sharp skirmish. It was proposed that we should prepare to hold the position then occupied by Hatton's brigade, to stop the advance of the enemy there. But it seemed to me more judicious to await a better opportunity, which the further advance of the Federal troops would certainly give, by increasing the interval between them and the three corps beyond the Chickahominy.

On the same day, Federal troops drove our cavalry out of Mechanicsville and occupied the village. This extension to the west by the Federal right made me apprehend the separation of the detachments near Fredericksburg and Gordonsville, from the army, and induced me to order them to fall back and unite where the Fredericksburg road crosses the Chickahominy. Near Hanover Court-House, on the 27th, Branch's brigade was attacked by Porter's corps, and suffered severely in the encounter. It was united with Anderson's on the same day, however, at the point designated for their junction. There a division was formed of these troops, to the command of which General A. P. Hill, just promoted, was assigned.

In the afternoon a party of cavalry left near Fredericksburg by General Anderson, to observe McDowell's

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