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[238] resistance as our limited forces would admit. General Fitz-John Porter's corps, consisting of Morell's division of volunteers, and Sykes's regulars, some five thousand strong, increased by Duryea's Zouaves, was posted near New-Bridge, within supporting distance. Gen. Stoneman had also been sent to Old Church with a regiment of cavalry and two of infantry as a corps of observation and to check flanking movements; or, if possible, to decoy the enemy down the Pamunkey. At about noon a powerful corps of the enemy, consisting of Gen. A. P. Hill's, D. H. Hill's, Longstreet's, and Anderson's divisions--then supposed to be Jackson's force--under command of Major-General Robert E. Lee, crossed the river at Mechanicsville bridge, Meadow bridge, and at Atlee's, and between one and two o'clock attacked our flank. Two regiments of Meade's brigade (McCall's division) were in reserve, and one on picket-duty. They did not at any time fully engage the enemy. General Reynolds's brigade held the right, and Seymour's the left. The fight was opened with artillery, at long range, but the enemy, finally discovering our superiority in this arm, foreshortened the range, and came into close conflict. He was evidently provoked at his own inefficiency, since his shell were not destructive in our intrenchments, while our gunners played upon his exposed ranks with fearful effect. The fight seemed to increase in fury as it progressed, and it finally became the most terrific artillery combat of the war. I had been accustomed for months to the incessant roar of heavy guns, but until that period I had failed to comprehend the terrible sublimity of a great battle with field-pieces. The uproar was incessant and deafening for hours. At times it seemed as if fifty guns exploded simultaneously, and then ran off at intervals into splendid file-firing, if I may apply infantry descriptive terms to cannonading. But no language can describe its awful grandeur. The enemy at last essayed a combined movement. Powerful bodies of troops plunged into the valley to charge our lines, but our men, securely posted, swept them away ruthlessly. Again and again the desperate fellows were pushed at the breastworks, only to be more cruelly slaughtered than before. Meantime our force had been strengthened by Griffin's brigade, which increased the volume of infantry fire, and Martindale's brigade came up to be ready for emergencies. At dark it was evident the rebels had enough, much more than they bargained for.

Their infantry fire had entirely subsided, and it was obvious that they were withdrawing under cover of their artillery. Our own batteries which had opened in full cry at the start, had not slackened an instant. Comprehending the situation fully now, the cannoniers plied themselves with tremendous energy to punish the retreating foe. We have no sure means to determine how many were slaughtered, but prisoners who were in the fight, and an intelligent contraband who escaped from Richmond the next day, and who was all over the field, are confident that three thousand fell. Our own loss was eighty killed and less than one hundred and fifty wounded. The conduct of our troops was admirable, and the gallantry of the officers conspicuous. Gen. McClellan was not in the battle, but was at Gen. Porter's headquarters until it terminated.

It was now ascertained from prisoners that Stonewall Jackson had not joined Lee. Hence it was inferred that he was sweeping down the banks of the Pamunkey to seize the public property, and cut off our retreat in that direction. Gen. Stoneman's command was moved swiftly down to watch operations there, and orders were issued for the removal or destruction of all public stores at White House. The situation, apparently placid on the surface, developed a troubled undercurrent. Gen. McClellan directed Gen. McCall to fall back and take up a new position in front of our military bridges, to resist an attack which was anticipated next day, (Friday.) It was thought if the enemy was not successfully repulsed, he could be drawn across our bridges upon our own terms, where he could be roughly handled. The command was given to. Gen. Fitz-John Porter, who controlled the troops already mentioned, supported by a powerful train of artillery, regular and volunteer.

Meantime all the trains and equipage of the right wing were withdrawn to Trent's Bluff, on the right bank of the river, during the night, and our wounded were conveyed to the hospital at Savage station — to be deserted, alas! to the enemy they had beaten. All these facts indicated danger. But other evidences of it were not wanting.

By daylight, Friday morning, Gen. McCall had fallen back in the rear of Gaines's Mill, and in front of Woodbury's Bridge, where he was posted, his left joining the right of Butterfield's brigade, resting in the woods and near the swamps of the Chickahominy. Morell was on his right, in the centre, and Gen. Sykes, commanding five thousand regulars and Duryea's Zouaves, held the extreme right — the line occupying crests of hills near the New-Kent road, some distance east by south of Gaines's Mills. A portion of the position was good, but judicious generalship might have found a better, and especially it might have been amended by posting the left flank upon a swamp which was impassable beyond peradventure. Besides, the line was so disposed that it was next to impossible to use our artillery advantageously — the very arm in which we enjoyed undoubted superiority. Nothing definite had yet been heard of the enemy, but it was assumed that he would appear stronger than yesterday. Accordingly, Gen. Slocum's division (about eight thousand strong) was moved across the river to support Porter, although it was deemed hazardous, in consequence of a pending attack along our whole front. But there was no alternative; Gen. McClellan had only so much material, and it was imperative that he should use it according to unavoidable necessity. Thus far I carry the reader in this history. The story of the battle is narrated by a friend, to whom I had entrusted

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