This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 manner. Before I spoke to him, he said his division had been under arms all day waiting for orders to advance, and that the day was now so far spent that he did not know what was the matter. I afterward learned from General Smith that he had received information from a citizen that the Beaverdam Creek presented an impassable barrier, and that he had thus fortunately been saved from a disaster. Thus ended the offensive-defensive program from which Lee expected much, and of which I was hopeful. In the meanwhile the enemy moved up, and, finding the crossing at Bottom's Bridge unobstructed, threw a brigade of the Fourth Corps across the Chickahominy as early as May 20th, and on the 23d sent over the rest of the Fourth Corps; on the 25th he sent over another corps, and commenced fortifying a line near to Seven Pines. In the forenoon of May 31st, riding out on the New Bridge road, I heard firing in the direction of Seven Pines. As I drew nearer, I saw General Whiting, with part of General Smith's division, file into the road in front of me; at the same time I saw General Johnston ride across the field from a house before which General Lee's horse was standing. I turned down to the house, and asked General Lee what the musketry firing meant. He replied by asking whether I had heard it, and was answered in the affirmative; he said he had been under that impression himself, but General Johnston had assured him that it could be nothing more than an artillery duel. It is scarcely necessary to add that neither of us had been advised of a design to attack the enemy that day. We then walked out to the rear of the house to listen, and were satisfied that an action, or at least a severe skirmish, must be going on. General Johnston states in his report that the condition of the air was peculiarly unfavorable to the transmission of sound. General Lee and myself then rode to the field of battle, which may be briefly described as follows: The Chickahominy flowing in front is a deep, sluggish, and narrow river, bordered by marshes and covered with tangled wood. The line of battle extended along the Nine Mile Road, across the York River Railroad and Williamsburg stage road. The enemy had constructed redoubts, with long lines of rifle pits covered by abatis, from below Bottom's Bridge to within less than two miles of New Bridge, and had constructed bridges to connect his forces on the north and south sides of the Chickahominy. The left of his forces, on the south side, was thrown forward from the river; the right was on its bank, and covered by its slope. Our main force was on the right flank of our position, extending
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.