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After some delay, Whiting sent a note to Johnston's headquarters, complaining that his march was obstructed by Longstreet. Johnston, supposing only that Longstreet was preceding Whiting down the Nine Mile road, as ordered to do, answered to that effect, and G. W. Smith, who was still with Johnston, sent an aid, Capt. Beckham, down the Nine Mile to overtake Longstreet and learn the cause of any delay. Beckham followed this road to Magruder's line, and, not finding Longstreet, guessed that he had gone across to the Williamsburg road. So he sent back a note saying that he would continue his search in that direction.

When this note was shown Johnston about 9 A. M., he was still so convinced that Longstreet was upon the Nine Mile road that he despatched his aide-de-camp, Lieut. Washington, down the same road to find him.

Washington pushed his investigation so far as to follow the Nine Mile into the enemy's pickets where he was captured about 10 A. M. His capture, and his disturbed manner when some firing was soon after heard, convinced Gen. Keyes that an attack was on foot, and Keyes was accordingly alert and prepared.

Meanwhile, Longstreet's column, having delayed Whiting on the Nine Mile road for two or three hours (for the column took its wagons along), found itself next blocking the column of Huger at Gilliss Greek. The creek was bank full from the rain. Longstreet says: —

‘The delay of an hour to construct a bridge was preferred to the encounter of more serious obstacles along the narrow lateral road flooded by the storm. As we were earlier at the creek, it gave us precedence of Huger's division, which had to cross after us.’

As Longstreet knew that one of Huger's brigades must relieve Rodes's brigade, on the Charles City road, and let it rejoin Hill's division before the battle could commence, it would have saved much to waive this precedence at least for one brigade.

Colston, commanding one of these brigades, wrote as follows of this occasion: —

‘A little brook near Richmond was greatly swollen, and a long time was wasted crossing it, on an improvised bridge, made of planks, a wagon midstream serving as a trestle. Over this the division passed in single ’

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