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[557] railroad, and extending from Atlee's station (with cavalry thrown out to Hanover Court-house), south to Shady Grove, ten miles north of Richmond. In this position Lee covered both the Virginia Central and the Fredericksburg and Richmond railroads, as well as all the roads leading to Richmond, west of and including the Mechanicsville pike. This formation had been, imposed upon the enemy by a similar motive that prompted the front we took up, namely, the duty of covering the lines by which his trains and material would pass in the change of front necessitated by the turning movement which compelled Lee to abandon the line of the South Anna.

In this situation, our right, the Sixth corps (Wright), fell back near Hanover Court-house; our left, held by the Fifth corps (Warren), rested across Tolopotamy creek. Hancock had the right centre; Burnside the left centre. During Monday, energetic reconnoissances were pushed forward on the right and left, which developed the enemy in full force. On the left Warren made a vigorous effort, the full details of which you have received from me, to carry the Mechanicsville pike, but failed. Meanwhile the cavalry had been distributed on the flanks of the army; the division of Wilson on the right flank; the division of Gregg and Torbert on the left.

No serious impression having been produced on the enemy's line by Monday's operations, the Commanding-General resumed his favorite tactics of developing the left flank. This manoeuvre appears to be characteristic of him, as he adopted it both at Spottsylvania and on the North Anna. The mode of executing this ingenious movement is as follows: The corps holding the extreme right of the line is, under cover of night, withdrawn behind the line of battle of the other corps (the picket line of course being left to conceal the movement), and carried to the extreme left of the line, where it intrenches. The next corps to the right is then withdrawn in like manner, and connects in the same way with the new left, forming a prolongation of its line. In this manner, in the course of a couple of days, a complete reversion of position of the corps has taken place; what had been the extreme right forming the extreme left, and had been the extreme left forming the extreme right; and thus the army finds itself drawn to the left by the length of its whole line of battle — say eight or ten miles.

During Tuesday night, the Sixth corps (Wright), which had held the right of the army, was in this way moved down the Hanover Court-house road, and on Wednesday morning took position near Cold Harbor, on the left of the left. Here it was joined by the reinforcements (the Eighteenth corps with part of the Tenth), brought by General W. F. Smith from White House. This column had been ordered by General Grant from White House to “New Cold Harbor,” but by an error in the telegraph the despatch named the point “Newcastle.” The mistake was corrected, but not until he had neared the latter place, so that this corps was compelled to make a fatiguing march of five and twenty miles, and arrived at Cold Harbor on the afternoon of Wednesday, just in time to take part along with the Sixth corps, in a severe engagement that ensued. As no accurate account of this affair has yet been given, a brief sketch of it will not be out of place.

I have already mentioned that the cavalry divisions of Gregg and Torbert had been placed so as to cover the left of our line, held by Warren, from whose corps they were separated by an interval of four miles. On Tuesday evening they met the rebel cavalry near Cold Harbor, and whipped them most completely.

On the following morning (Wednesday) they renewed the fight; once more punished the rebels severely, but presently found out that the enemy had, during the night, brought up strong infantry supports, so that Sheridan was compelled to await the arrival of Wright and Smith, then on their way up.

While writing of this affair, I have chanced to receive a copy of yesterday's Richmond Enquirer (Thursday, June two), and find in it an account of Wednesday's cavalry affair. It is as follows:

About half-past 3 A. M., yesterday, artillery was opened on the enemy on the Chickahominy, and by eight o'clock heavy skirmishing occurred along a considerable portion of the lines. Hoke's division commenced an advance at an early hour for a position near Cold Harbor, when it was met and attacked by a largely superior force of the enemy. The division sustained itself against the shock which ensued, but was compelled to fall back. McLaws' division coming to Hoke's support, joined in the fray, when Hoke returned to the conflict and drove the enemy back a distance of a mile and a half, capturing some three hundred prisoners and otherwise severely punishing his forces. Other portions of Longstreet's corps were engaged. The battle raged hotly for several hours, quieted down somewhat between ten and eleven o'clock, and closed about one o'clock.

Now, what is amusing in this recital is, that the rebel writer either did not know or had not the honesty to acknowledge that the rebel divisions named (the divisions of Hoke and McLaws, and “other portions of Longstreet's corps” ), were fighting nothing but cavalry, who dismounted, and with their carbines were able to punish the rebels, breaking one entire division, and after retiring were able to hold in check the whole of Longstreet's corps until Wright and Smith got up. Of the sequel the rebel writer says nothing; that remains to be told. Having arrived in the afternoon, the corps of Wright and Smith formed in line of battle, Wright in four lines, and Smith in a single line, on the right of the Sixth.

In front of our lines was an open space of two thirds of a mile in width, beyond which, in a piece of pine woods, the enemy was in force,

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