was not until the Federal
pickets north of the Chickahominy
were driven in next day that the Federal Commander
had any certain information of the approach of his swift-footed assailant.
was now ready to deliver battle.
His strength, including Jackson
, was from 80,000 to 81,000 men. (See the careful computations of General Early
, Southern Historical papers, vol.
I, p. 421, and of Colonel Taylor
, Four Years with General Lee
, the latter of which General Webb
adopts, p. 119). General McClellan
's strength, omitting Dix
's command at Fort Monroe
, was by his official return for June 10, 105,825 “present for duty.”
(This number General Webb
unfairly reduces to 92,500.) This disparity was not greater than must naturally exist between two combatants so unequal in resources as were the North and South.
If the independence of the South
was to be achieved it must be done in spite of it. To Lee
's mind a simply defensive policy, resulting ultimately in a siege, promised nothing beyond a protracted struggle, with certain disaster at the end of it. He believed he could best thwart his adversary by attacking him. McClellan
had, after the battle of Seven Pines
, transferred the bulk of his army to the south side of the Chickahominy
, where he reoccupied the ground from which Keyes
and Heinzelman had been driven on May 31.
This ground he covered with a network of entrenchments, and under the cover of strong works was slowly pushing his lines towards Richmond
About one-third of his army held the north side of the Chickahominy
as high up as Meadow Bridge
, and at the same time covered his communications with his base at West Point
, on the Pamunkey
determined to attack the Federal
right wing, overwhelm it if possible, and destroy McClellan
's communications and depots.
would thus be forced to fight for his communications or to adopt some other line of retreat at immense cost of supplies.
The information brought by Stuart
in his plan, and Jackson
was then ordered to come down on McClellan
's right and rear.
was at hand A. P. Hill
was to send a brigade across the Chickahominy
above the Federal
right to unite with Jackson
, and when the Confederate forces had moved down the north side and uncovered Meadow bridge
, the remainder of A. P. Hill
's division was to cross there, and he was to be followed by Longstreet
and D. H. Hill
by way of the Mechanicsville bridge
as soon as it was open.
were left to hold the lines in front of Richmond
, facing the mass of McClellan
, worn by his forced march from the Valley
, was behind time on the morning of June 26th, and A. P. Hill
waited from early in the