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[243] would have been comparative happiness. About nine o'clock this anxiety was relieved by an awful cannonade opened upon Smith's position from two forts in Garnett's field, a battery at Fitz-John Porter's old position, and another below it, on the left bank of the Chickahominy, raking his intrenchments and compelling him to abandon the strongest natural position on our whole line. The fire was terrible. I can describe its lines fairly by comparing it with the right lines and angles of a chess-board. Smith fell back to the woods, a few hundred yards, and threw up breastworks out of range. The enemy, content with his success, ceased firing, and quiet was not disturbed again that day. The silence of the enemy was explained to me that night by a negro slave, who had escaped from his master at headquarters in Richmond. He said a despatch had been sent by Jackson to Magruder, who remained in command in front of Richmond, expressed thus: “Be quiet. Every thing is working as well as we could desire!” Ominous words!

I now proceeded to Savage station. I shall not attempt to describe the sombre picture of gloom, confusion and distress, which oppressed me there. I found officers endeavoring to fight off the true meaning. Anxiety at headquarters was too apparent to one who had studied that branch of the army too sharply to be deluded by thin masks. Other external signs were demonstrative. The wretched spectacle of mangled men from yesterday's battle, prone upon the lawn, around the hospital, the wearied, haggard, and smoke-begrimed faces of men who had fought, were concomitants of every battle-field, yet they formed the sombre coloring of the ominous picture before me. Then there were hundreds who had straggled from the field, sprawled upon every space where there was a shadow of a leaf to protect them from a broiling sun; a hurry and tumult of wagons and artillery trains, endless almost, rushing down the roads towards the new base, moving with a sort of orderly confusion, almost as distressing as panic itself. But I venture that few of all that hastening throng, excepting old officers, understood the misfortune. Strange to say, that even then, almost eleven o'clock, communication with White House by railroad and telegraph was uninterrupted, but soon after eleven the wires suddenly ceased to vibrate intelligibly.

From headquarters I passed along our lines. The troops still stood at the breastworks ready for battle; but it was evident they had begun to inquire into the situation. Some apprehensive officers had caught a hint of the mysteries which prevailed. The trains were ordered to move, troops to hold themselves in readiness to march at any moment. So passed that day, dreadful in its moral attributes as a day of pestilence, and when night closed upon the dreary scene, the enterprise had fully begun. Endless streams of artillery-trains, wagons, and funereal ambulances poured down the roads from all the camps, and plunged into the narrow funnel which was our only hope of escape. And now the exquisite truth flashed upon me. It was absolutely necessary, for the salvation of the army and the cause, that our wounded and mangled braves, who lay moaning in physical agony in our hospitals, should be deserted and left in the hands of the enemy. Oh! the cruel horrors of war. Do you wonder, my friends, that the features of youth wrinkle, and that the strong man's beard silvers soon, amid such scenes? The signature of age indites itself full soon upon the smoothest face of warriors and those who witness war's cruelty. Ah! well, another night of sorrow, without catastrophe. Officers were on horseback nearly all night, ordering the great caravan and its escorts. No wink of sleep again; no peace of mind for any who realized the peril of our country in those blank hours.

At daylight, Gen. McClellan was on the road. Thousands of cattle, of wagons, and our immense train of artillery, intermingled with infantry and great troops of cavalry, choked up the narrow road already. Gen. Sumner's, Heintzelman's, and Franklin's corps, under Sumner's command, had been left to guard the rear, with orders to fall back at daylight, and hold the enemy in check till night. A noble army for sacrifice, and some, oh! how many, must fall to save the rest. The very slightest movement from the front was critical. At no point along the line were we more than three fourths of a mile from the enemy, and in front of Sedgwick's line they were not over six hundred yards distant. The slightest vibration at any point was apt to thrill the rebel lines from centre to wings. But fortunately, by skilful secrecy, column after column was marched to the rear — Franklin first, Sedgwick next, then Richardson and Hooker, and lastly the knightly Kearney.

A mile had been swiftly traversed, when these splendid columns quickly turned at bay. The moment was most thrilling, most trying to stoutest nerves. The enemy, keen-scented and watchful, had discovered the retrograde, and quick as thought were swarming through our late impassable entanglements, and came yelling at our heels like insatiate savages. Full soon our camps had hived countless numbers, and red battle began to stamp his foot. Gallant Burns was first to feel the shock. One of his favorite regiments-Baxter's Philadelphia Fire Zouaves — had been assigned to support a battery. As the enemy advanced it opened hotly upon them, but undismayed, they pressed to the charge. Burns held firm his men until the enemy seemed almost ready to plunge upon the guns. Then waving his sword, he ordered his trusty fellows to fire. A basketful of canister, fearful volleys of musketry, and all who were left of that slaughtered column of rebels fled howling to the rear. Fresh masses poured out and were sent surging back again, until finally they stood aloof, content to watch and wait a happier moment to assail that desperate front. Meantime, almost every vestige of camp-furniture, which had been left in camp,

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