At length, after midday on the 26th, the stillness was broken, when across the river, up the left bank, there was an incessant cannonading for hours; evidently there was a terrible artillery combat in progress.
must be engaged.
With what troops?
Have they been withdrawn from our front to crush him, or has Jackson
swooped down upon him from the valley?
Or is the gallant Fifth Corps contending, single-handed, with the combined forces of Jackson
and some corps drawn from our front?
These questions were in some degree to be answered on the morrow.
On the morning of the 27th, one of those camp rumors, whose source no private can fathom, but whose story almost always gains credence, said that a Confederate corps had marched by, beyond the right of our line on the south side, had crossed at Meadow Bridge
, not far from Mechanicsville
, and had fallen upon Porter
at that place, while Jackson
, who two days before had arrived from the valley, had marched from Ashland
, fifteen miles away, formed a junction with the force that had crossed at Meadow Bridge
, and was now moving toward Whitehouse
, our base of supplies on the Pamunkey
If this story were substantially correct, then the long-continued fire of yesterday afternoon and evening must have been at a terrible artillery fight at Mechanicsville
Authentic advices subsequently confirmed this.
It was learned that the Fifth Corps, with the Pennsylvania
reserve which shortly before had come down from McDowell
's department, had repulsed a furious attack by A. P. Hill
upon the Federal
intrenchments near Mechanicsville
, that it was the most terrible artillery battle the war had yet known, and that the Federal
batteries, from the nature of their position, wrought frightful loss upon their assailants.
This was the second day of the seven.
is moving toward Whitehouse
, if a large Confederate force is confronting Porter
alone on the north side, perhaps the bulk of their army, we surely shall move to-day.
The regiments and batteries since morning had been under marching orders.
We heard an infantry officer, before a sutler's tent, say to another, pointing to some of the Sixteenth New York, who were standing by, “These men are all liable to arrest for being out of camp;” and some of the men retorted in an undertone, ‘So are you.’
Where are we going?
Is it a retreat towards the James