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[113] good as his plan. At the beginning there was every promise that it would be. Two days before, a confidential order had been issued to general officers and heads of departments, which is given in part, in contrast with Johnston's method, as developed at Seven Pines.

General orders no. 75.

Headquarters in the field, June 24, 1862.
Gen. Jackson's command will proceed to-morrow from Ashland toward the Stark (or Merry Oaks) Church, and encamp at some convenient point west of the Central Railroad. Branch's brigade of A. P. Hill's division will also, to-morrow evening, take position on the Chickahominy near Half-Sink.

At three o'clock Thursday morning, 26th inst., Gen. Jackson will advance on the road leading to Pole Green Church, communicating his march to Gen. Branch, who will immediately cross the Chickahominy and take the road leading to Mechanicsville.

As soon as the movements of these columns are discovered, Gen. A. P. Hill, with the rest of his division, will cross the Chickahominy near Meadow Bridge and move direct upon Mechanicsville.

To aid his advance the heavy batteries on the Chickahominy will, at the proper time, open upon the batteries at Mechanicsville. The enemy being driven from Mechanicsville and the passage across the bridge opened, Gen. Longstreet, with his division and that of Gen. D. H. Hill, will cross the Chickahominy at or near that point, Gen. D. H. Hill moving to the support of Gen. Jackson, and Gen. Longstreet supporting Gen. A. P. Hill. The four divisions keeping in communication with each other and moving en echelon on separate roads, if practicable, the left division in advance, with skirmishers and sharp-shooters extending their front, will sweep down the Chickahominy and endeavor to drive the enemy from his position above New Bridge, Gen. Jackson bearing well to his left, turning Beaver Dam Creek, taking the direction toward Cold Harbor.

‘They will then press forward toward the York River Railroad, closing upon the enemy's rear and forcing him down the Chickahominy. Any advance of the enemy toward Richmond will be prevented by vigorously following his rear and crippling and arresting his progress. . . .’


But one grave error had been committed. Among the preparations which Lee had made for the occasion had been a forced reconnaissance of the enemy's rear, which was made by his cavalry commander, Stuart, between June 11 and 15. Stuart, with about 1200 men and two guns, passing well behind the enemy's right, had gotten into his rear and discovered

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