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[222] horses killed — a sacrifice well worth the results attained. Of this action, the Comte de Paris wrote fifteen years later: “The sacrifice of some of the bravest of the cavalry certainly saved a part of the artillery, as did, on a larger scale, the Austrian cavalry on the evening of Sadowa.”

General Wesley Merritt, U. S. A., one of the ablest cavalry officers of his time, who was present at Gaines' Mill as an aide-de-Camp to General Cooke, thus described this affair:1

During the early part of this battle the Union army held its ground and gained from time to time some material success. But it was only temporary. In the afternoon the writer of this, by General Cooke's direction, reported at the headquarters of the commanding general on the field, Fitz John Porter, and during his attendance there heard read a despatch from General McClellan congratulating Porter on his success. It closed with directions to drive the rebels off the field, and to take from them their artillery. At the time this despatch was being read, the enemy were forcing our troops to the rear. Hasty preparations were made for the retreat of the headquarters, and everything was in the most wretched confusion. No orders could be obtained, and I returned to my chief reporting the condition of affairs. It was apparent from movements in our front that the Confederates would make a supreme effort to force the left flank of Fitz John Porter's command, and cutting it off from the bridge over the Chickahominy, sever it from McClellan's army, and capture or disperse it.

It was growing late. Both armies were exhausted by the exertions of the day. But the prize at hand was well worth the effort, and the Confederates with renewed strength were fighting to make their victory complete. The Union cavalry commander seized the situation at a glance. The cavalry had been posted behind a plateau on the left bank of the Chickahominy, with ground to its front free of obstacles and suitable for cavalry action. To the right front of the cavalry the batteries of the reserve artillery were stationed. . . .

The events of that day at Gaines' Mill are pictured on the mind of the writer of this imperfect sketch as on a never fading photograph. The details of the battle are as vivid as if they had occurred yesterday. As

1 Journal United States Cavalry Association, March, 1895.

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