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[246] from their camps in front of Richmond across New-Bridge, to strengthen Jackson still more. Happy delusion!

Their first shells exploded around and over the hospitals at Savage station, but it is just to say it was not intentional. They next opened upon a cluster of officers, including Sumner, Sedgwick, Richardson, Burns, and their staffs, missing them fortunately, but covering them with dust. Our own batteries were now in full clamor, and both sides handled their guns skilfully. The object of the enemy seemed to be to break our right centre, and consequently Burns's brigade was the recipient of the principal share of their favor. As the afternoon wore away, the combatants drew closer together, and the conflict became one of the sharpest of the battles on Virginia soil. Two companies of one regiment stampeded. General Burns flung himself across their track, waved his bullet-shattered hat, expostulated, exhorted, entreated, threatened, imprecated, under a storm of lead, and at last, throwing his hat in an agony of despair upon the ground, begged them to rally once more, and preserve them and him from disgrace. The last appeal touched them. The men wheeled with alacrity, and fought like heroes until the carnage ceased. Each regiment distinguished itself so conspicuously, that in happier times their names will be inscribed in general order. But there was such a number of regiments and officers engaged that the record would make a volume. Suffice it that none but those I expected, and who redeemed themselves subsequently, faltered in the fight. Sumner's corps held the field till Heintzelman's corps had retired, and then moved quietly and swiftly back, under cover of night and the forests, across White Oak bridge.

Our trains had now passed White Oak bridge. Such an achievement, in such order, under the circumstances, might well be regarded wonderful. The retreat was most ably conducted. Until this day, (Monday,) the enemy seems constantly to have operated upon the supposition that our army was intending to retire to the Pamunkey. They had been deluded into this belief by the Seventeenth New-York and Eighteenth Massachusetts regiments, together with part of the First, Second and Sixth Regular cavalry, which had been sent out of Old Church on Thursday morning, to impress the enemy with that notion. (Par parenthese, they retired safely to Yorktown, and are now at Malvern Hill.) But our true object must now have become apparent, and it was vitally necessary to get the trains through before the enemy could push columns down the Charles City, Central and New-Market roads. But until eight o'clock in the morning, we had no knowledge of any but the Quaker road to the point at which we now aimed — Hardin's Landing and Malvern Hill, in Turkey Bend. Sharp reconnoissance, however, had found another, and soon our tremendous land-fleet was sailing down two roads, and our long artillery train of two hundred and fifty guns and equipments were lumbering after them with furious but orderly speed. So perfect was the order — although to an unpractised eye it would have seemed the confusion of Bable — that the roads were blockaded but two or three times. The topography of the country had now become such, that infantry could march through the woods in parallel lines on both sides of the trains, while White Oak swamp fortunately protected our flanks from cavalry. We were getting on admirably, and it was apparent that the whole army would be safely in position before sunset unless the enemy should attack.

Battle at White Oak swamp.

At about ten o'clock, Gen. McClellan pushed to the river, communicating with Commodore Rodgers, and had the gunboat fleet posted to aid us against the enemy. The case was desperate, but it was a relief to reach the river, where we could turn at bay, with our rear protected by the James, and flanks partially covered by gunboats. Tidings, however, had been received that the enemy was pushing swiftly upon us in several columns of immense numbers, apparently determined to crush us or drive us into the river that night. They opened fiercely with shell upon Smith's division at White Oak bridge. After burning down the house of a good secessionist, and breaking his leg, the enemy extended his line of fire, and soon engaged our entire rear-guard, striking at Slocum, who was guarding against a flank movement designed to cut our column in twain.

Long before this, our vanguard had debouched from the road into the fleld before Turkey Bend, and our reserve artillery was powerfully posted on Malvern Hill, a magnificent bluff covering Hardin's Landing, where our gunboats were cruising. Here was a glorious prospect. Though our gallant fellows were bravely holding the fierce enemy at bay to cover the swiftly escaping trains, it was clear our troubles were not ended. We had again deceived the enemy by going to Turkey Bend. He had imagined we were marching to New-Market, destined to a point on Cliff Bottom road, near Fort Darling. It was not far away, and the enemy was massing his troops upon us on the left and on our new front; for when we arrived at Malvern Hill, the wings of the army as organized were reversed, Keyes taking the right, Porter's corps the left, as we faced Richmond. Our line now described a great arc, and there was fighting around three fourths of the perimeter.

General McClellan, who had already communicated with the gunboats, returned from the front to Malvern Hills, which were made his battle headquarters, and dispositions for a final emergency were made. Fitz-John Porter was marched from the valley under the hill to his post on the western crest of the hill, where he could rake the plains toward Richmond. Our splendid artillery was picturesquely poised in fan shape at salient points, and its supports were disposed in admirable cover in hollows between undulations of the bluff. Powerful concentrating batteries were also posted in the centre, so that, to use the language of Col. Sweitzer: “We'll clothe this hill in sheets ”

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