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[108]

Chapter 23:

  • The enemy's position
  • -- his intention -- the plan of operations -- movements of General Jackson -- daring and fortitude of Lee -- offensive-defensive policy -- General Stuart's movement -- order of attack -- critical position of McClellan -- order of Lincoln creating the army of Virginia -- arrival of Jackson -- position of the enemy -- diversion of General Longstreet -- the enemy forced back South of the Chickahominy -- abandonment of the Railroad.


When riding from the field of battle with General Robert E. Lee on the previous day, I informed him that he would be assigned to the command of the army, vice General Johnston, wounded, and that he could make his preparations as soon as he reached his quarters, as I should send the order to him as soon as I arrived at mine. On the next morning, as above stated, he proceeded to the field and took command of the troops. During the night our forces on the left had fallen back from their position at the close of the previous day's battle, but those on the right remained in the one they had gained, and some combats occurred there between the opposing forces. The enemy proceeded further to fortify his position on the Chickahominy, covering his communication with his base of supplies on York River. His left was on the south side of the Chickahominy, between White-Oak Swamp and New Bridge, and was covered by a strong entrenchment, with heavy guns, and with abatis in front. His right wing was north of the Chickahominy, extending to Mechanicsville, and the approaches were defended by strong works.

Our army was in line in front of Richmond, but without entrenchments. General Lee immediately commenced the construction of an earthwork for a battery on our left flank, and a line of entrenchment to the right, necessarily feeble because of our deficiency in tools. It seemed to be the intention of the enemy to assail Richmond by regular approaches, which our numerical inferiority and want of engineer troops, as well as the deficiency of proper utensils, made it improbable that we should be able to resist. The day after General Lee assumed command, I was riding out to the army, when I saw at a house on my left a number of horses, and among them one I recognized as belonging to him. I dismounted and entered the house, where I found him in consultation with a number of his general officers. The tone of the conversation was quite despondent, and one, especially, pointed out the inevitable consequence of the enemy's advance by throwing out boyaux, and

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