the bridge was rebuilt, and the brigades, together with their batteries, crossed the stream safely. The Major-General commanding now assumed direct control, and ordered the advance in line of battle down the Chickahominy — my brigade on the right, three regiments in line of battle, one near the Chickahominy, and the fourth in rear of the centre of my line; Pryor's brigade in line on my left. Having advanced nearly one mile, a house was passed, the occupants of which reported that the enemy had just left it, and that they were drawn up in line in the woods beyond. My brigade, passing the house, entered the woods, and, descending for a hundred or two yards, crossed a stream, and then ascending a steep hill for four or five hundred yards, emerged upon an open field, not having met the enemy. Here we found a large deserted camp of the enemy, in which were found forage, bacon, flour in small quantities, and boxes of valuable medicines, and surgical instruments. At this point, troops were seen off to our left flank and front, and not knowing whether they were friends or enemies, a halt was made for a few minutes. It was ascertained that it was a part of Jackson's forces, Ewell's division. The command was then moved forward, my brigade still on the right, and Pryor to the left, and, inclining more to our right, we again entered an open field. Here we were halted by the Major-General commanding, and from this place we could see the Chickahominy to our right, and extending far to our front, and upon the far side troops that we supposed to be our friends. Remaining here for a few minutes, we were moved off, by the left flank, about one mile, and here being joined by Featherston's brigade, we continued our advance, following a road leading through a heavy pine forest, in which it was again supposed that the enemy would be found. Having cleared this forest, we arrived at the house of Dr. Gaines; beyond this house, as we approached it, was an open field of at least a mile in extent, and terminating by heavy forest and marshy ground, bordering the Chickahominy. On commanding heights beyond the Chickahominy, we saw what we supposed to be both our own and the camp of the enemy. Slightly to the left of Dr. Gaines's house, the field was bounded by a small growth of trees, and the field again extended to the left, leaving a thin belt of timber to the right, and fringing the banks of a small stream, the ground falling rapidly to this stream. After ascending gradually for one hundred or two hundred yards, as it was approached from the Gaines house, and after crossing this little stream, the ground rose quite steep, and was covered with a belt of timber more than one hundred yards deep, and in rear of this there came a field extending again as far as the Chickahominy. In the open field extending beyond the house of Dr. Gaines, the enemy's skirmishers could be distinctly seen, some about five hundred yards, and others eight hundred or one thousand yards--the near line of skirmishers being in front of the timber skirting the small stream above described. At Dr. Gaines's was found a deserted battery, which commanded the open field and the road passing this house down to and across the Chickahominy. We had now advanced from Mechanicsville about six miles, the enemy's skirmishers were seen in our front, and we were here halted with instructions to engage the enemy's skirmishers, but to advance no farther for the present, and not to enter into a general action. General Pryor threw out skirmishers to the front, and firing for a short time, the enemy's skirmishers withdrew. A battery (Pryor's) was now brought to the front, and from a commanding position in front of the Gaines house, fired across the open field to the forest beyond and bordering on the Chickahominy. The enemy were seen in this woods, but no fire came from this quarter in reply to our artillery; but a battery upon an eminence beyond the Chickahominy soon began to return our fire. This was a battery of heavy rifled guns, and beyond the range of the pieces of our battery, which was now withdrawn. The enemy's skirmishers again appeared in small numbers within five or six hundred yards of us, and on the crest of the hill in front of the small stream above referred to. When fired upon they would fall back behind the crest of the hill, and would soon be out of sight. The enemy's battery of rifled guns on the heights beyond the Chickahominy continued to fire, but without doing any injury, although the shot and shell would frequently fall and burst near us. After remaining two and a half or three hours near the Gaines house, the Major-General commanding directed that the enemy's skirmishers that continued to reappear on our loft should be driven in and followed to their support, and at the same time that I should hold my own, Pryor's, and Featherston's brigades in readiness to commence the attack on the enemy when firing should be heard on our extreme left. One of General Pryor's regiments was ordered to advance against the skirmishers, the remainder of this brigade being held in reserve in close supporting distance. My own and Featherston's brigades were brought up near and in rear of Pryor. Pryor's regiment advancing against the skirmishers, they soon fell back over the crest of the hill, pursued by this regiment. Reaching the hill in pursuit of the enemy, it here came in full view of the enemy in position, and drew upon itself a heavy fire of musketry, thus revealing the fact that the enemy were there in strong force. The regiment was soon withdrawn to the rear and down a ravine to its support, and out of fire of the enemy's infantry. The enemy did not follow. I now made my preparations for an attack upon the enemy, intending it to be made with the utmost vigor, and with all the force at my command. My brigade was advanced to the front, and two regiments, the Tenth Alabama and Eleventh Alabama--the latter on the right — were formed in line of battle in rear of the crest of the hill from which Pryor's regiment was withdrawn from the pursuit of the enemy's skirmishers. Pryor's brigade, with the exception of one regiment, (the Second Florida,) formed in line on the left of mine, the two remaining
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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