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 I shall not enter upon any detailed description of those days of retreat, pursuit, and battle, but shall rather confine myself to several salient points, and to some incidents of those stirring scenes. The loaded train of ammunition which an engine with full steam on hurled into the Chickahominy, amid the explosion of hundreds of shells; vast camps with their burning debris; vast Federal hospitals with their thousands of wounded; stores of every description half burned; thousands of stands of small arms; abandoned cannon, wagons, pontoon trains, etc., all told of a vast army making a hasty retreat. The uncertainty of McClellan's intentions, the wooded character of the country, the ignorance of our officers of the topography and the failure of some of his subordinates to carry out his orders, all put General Lee at great disadvantage, gave McClellan twenty-four hours the start, and saved his army from utter destruction. General Jackson was delayed by the necessity of rebuilding Grapevine bridge over the Chickahominy, and did not put his column in motion until “early dawn” of the 29th. It was on this occasion that the incident occurred in which figured Captain C. R. Mason--widely known in Virginia as “the Napoleon of railroad contractors” --whom Jackson had attached to his staff as chief of pioneers. Anxious to build the bridge and join in the pursuit of the enemy, Jackson sent for Mason, told him his wishes, and ordered him to be ready to begin the bridge, “so soon as the engineers could prepare the plan and specifications.” The veteran bridge builder at once replied: “Never mind the pictures, General! If you will just send me men enough who will wade in the water and tote poles, I will have the bridge ready by the time the engineers can prepare the pictures.” Jackson cordially seconded his efforts, the bridge was ready in a marvelously short time, and the “foot cavalry” were again on the road. But the swamps of the Chickahominy were very different from the firm ground of the Shenandoah Valley. McClellan obstructed the roads by every possible device, and our progress was very slow. Had General Lee's plans been carried out on June 30th at Frazier's farm, instead of the heroic fight which Longstreet and A. P. Hill were compelled to make against overwhelming odds, and with long doubtful result, Jackson's corps would have crossed White Oak Swamp at a point which would have planted them firmly on the enemy's flank and rear, and Malvern Hill and Harrison's Landing would never have become historic. “Even great Homer sometimes nods,” and even Stonewall Jackson was not infallible. General Wade Hampton insisted that he could
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