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 “June 28, 1862, 12:20 A. M.--I now know the full history of the day. On this side of the river (the right bank) we repulsed several very strong attacks. On the left bank our men did all that men could do — all that soldiers could accomplish; but they were overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers, even after I brought my last reserves into action. Had I 20,000 or even 10,000 fresh troops to use to-morrow I could take Richmond; but I have not a man in reserve, and shall be glad to cover my retreat and save the material and personnel of the army. If we have lost the day, we have yet preserved our honor, and no one need blush for the Army of the Potomac. I have lost this battle because my force was too small. I still hope to retrieve our fortunes. I know that a few thousand men more would have changed this battle from a defeat to victory.” These and other quotations which I might make show conclusively that McClellan did not “change base” according to some preconceived plan, but that he was driven from the field by Lee's army. But I must return to the movements of “the foot cavalry.” General Lee's order of battle contemplated that Jackson should bivouac on the night of the 25th of June near the Central Railroad, eight miles east of Ashland, and to advance at 3 A. M. on the 26th, so as to turn the enemy's work at Mechanicsville and on Beaver Dam Creek and open the road for A. P. Hill, D. H. Hill and Longstreet to cross the Chickahominy and unite with him in sweeping down towards the York River railroad, and thus cut McClellan off from his base of supplies at the White House. But the burning of the bridges and the blockading of the roads by the enemy so impeded our march that we only reached the vicinity of Ashland that night, and were not able to move again until sunrise on the morning of the 26th, and even then we made such slow progress that we only reached Pole Green Church in the afternoon, just as that gallant soldier, A. P. Hill (impatient of further delay, and unwilling to wait longer for Jackson to turn the position), had crossed the Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge and was leading his heroic “Light division” down on the position of the enemy at Mechanicsville. I shall never forget the scene among the “foot cavalry” when Hill's guns announced that the great battle had opened. Cheer after cheer ran along the whole line, and the column hastened forward with the eagerness of veterans to reach their “place in the picture near the flashing of the guns.” But we were too late that evening to get into the fight or help our comrades by turning the strong position which they were assailing. As we lay down in our bivouac, near Pole Green Church, with orders to move at “early dawn,” the muttering of the fight just closing, the
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