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[74] a raging river, filling the entire swamp. General Johnston, commanding the Confederate forces, saw his opportunity, and, like the skillful general that he was, seized it and on May 31 suddenly attacked the small portion of the Union army that had crossed on the Richmond side of the river, at Fair Oaks. The Nineteenth regiment, which had been on picket duty for two days along the banks of the river, was called in and ordered forward to its place in Sedgwick's Division. The sudden storm had made a perfect quagmire of the bottoms, and in trying to get reinforcements from the East side, great delays and difficulties were met as a consequence. General Sumner led his Corps across, following the sound of cannon, using ‘Grape Vine Bridge’ for the purpose. It was soon found that the bridge was floating away and could only be held down by the weight of the artillery and the men who were crossing. As the regiment marched along, the logs rolled up in front of the men, much the same as thin, tough ice, does and reminded them of what they used to call ‘Bendibows.’

On reaching the field, the regiment was moved from right to left under fire, but was not actively engaged, General Sumner having arrived just in time to turn defeat into success.

The command moved forward on gradually rising ground until it reached a beautiful wood, filled with birds singing joyfully, while not more than two miles away the music of the minie balls and the screeching shell, bringing pain and death, were heard instead. Here the regiment halted near a mansion, where they found three springs of cool, sweet water bubbling out of the clear, white sand. It was the first spring the men had seen since leaving Hampton, and it can readily be imagined with what pleasure they filled their canteens out of the sparkling pool.

Here the men lay in the cool shade, listening to the thunders of artillery and the rattle of musketry, expecting every minute to be ordered into action. There was no sport or loud talk indulged in, conversation being carried on in low tones. The very air seemed oppressive. Everyone seemed to realize the terrible work that was being done beyond the woods. At about noon an aide of the brigade commander galloped into the woods

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Hampton (Virginia, United States) (1)
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