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[285] of extraordinary strength; the banks of the creek in front were high and almost perpendicular; the approach to it was over open fields; there were no bridges, and the difficulty of crossing the stream had been increased by felling the woods on its banks. It was thought that the only possible method in which the position could be attacked was to cross the creek and swamp higher up; and it was expected that Jackson would pass Beaver Dam above, and turn the enemy's right.

In the meantime Longstreet and D. H. Hill crossed the Mechanicsville bridge as soon as it was uncovered, and could be repaired. It was late before they reached the north bank of the Chickahominy. D. H. Hill's leading brigade under Ripley advanced to the support of the troops engaged, and at a late hour united with Pender's brigade of A. P. Hill's division in an effort to turn the enemy's left. In the excitement and darkness, Ripley advanced his line through the open fields, and had reached the road and swamp in front, when suddenly the enemy opened with grape, at seventy yards, and mowed down whole files of our men. The word to “charge ;” ran from wing to wing, and our men running down the bank to the road beneath, were stopped by the impassable swamp and abattis; to the right, up the rising road, cannon also blazed in their faces, and well-posted infantry poured in showers of small shot. Retreat was the only alternative, and under cover of the darkness, it was effected with little additional loss. The fire was continued until about nine o'clock in the night, when the engagement ceased; and thus closed the first day of the battles around Richmond.

In the morning of the 27th June Jackson's arrival on the enemy's left was still looked for. In expectation of it the battle was renewed at dawn. The fight continued with animation for about two hours. As the sun brilliantly rose over the tree-tops, illumining the field, the line of fight with its stream of fire; bursting of caissons, shouts, yells; the centre occupied by the strong redoubt; crowds of combatants rushing in the charge; soldiers reeling, bleeding, shouting, powder-blackened and fainting, madly firing random shots, and sinking from fatigue, formed a scene that was at once soul-stirring, sublime and horrible. But while this terrible and critical action was going on, Jackson was rapidly approaching to decide it. He had at last succeeded in crossing Beaver Dam creek above the enemy's position; and the Federals no sooner perceived it than they abandoned their entrenchments, and retired rapidly down the river.

No time was now to be lost. Gen. Lee readily perceived that McClellan had endeavoured to force Porter into an energetic resistance thus far, to gain time to protect his centre on the north bank, situated in the neighbourhood of Gaines' Mills, near the river. As soon as the bridges over Beaver Dam could be repaired the several columns resumed their march. Longstreet and A. P. Hill moved along the edge of the Chickahominy on

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