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“ [560] Tell them this thing has hung in suspense too long; sweep the field with the bayonet.”

Pendleton galloped off on his perilous mission, but had hardly gotten out of sight when a ringing “rebel yell” ran along our whole line and proclaimed that our reserves had gotten fully into action — that the enemy were being driven from the field, and that the victory was ours. Darkness closed in upon the scene, and there followed a night with the wounded, and a mourning for the gallant dead.

General McClellan speaks of our forces in this battle as embracing “overwhelming numbers,” and this theory is adopted by most Northern writers on the subject. But the “field returns” of both armies, and a careful computation of the figures of the official reports on both sides show that at the beginning of the battle Lee had under his command, of all arms, 80,284 men, while the official returns of the Army of the Potomac show that General McClellan had present for duty on the 20th day of June, 1862, 115,102, but as this return included General Dix's command of over nine thousand men at Fort Monroe, it is perfectly safe to say that McClellan had before Richmond, when the battle opened, one hundred and five thousand men with which to oppose Lee's eighty thousand.

We had about fifty-two thousand on the north side of the Chickahominy and twenty-eight thousand in the trenches on the south side.

We have no means at hand of determining the numbers of the Army of the Potomac actually engaged at Gaines's Mill and Cold Harbor, but this much we may confidently affirm: If with a superiority of force in all of at least twenty-five thousand and with his bridges secure and his communications intact, McClellan allowed his brave Lieutenant, Fitz John Porter, to be “overwhelmed by superior numbers,” he was guilty of a worse blunder than his bitterest critics have ever charged against him.

It must be remembered, also, that the strong positions which Porter held, his skilfully constructed intrenchments, and the able handling of his powerful artillery went a long way towards making the odds greatly in his favor. I remember that on riding over the field the next day several of the positions seemed to me well nigh impregnable, and even Jackson exclaimed when he saw the position which Hood's Texans had carried: “These men are soldiers indeed!” Two years later, when Lee's veterans occupied these same positions, Grant's powerful army surged against them in vain.

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