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[271] quickly transport portions of his army to the vicinity of Richmond and to his rear, either by the York or by the James, Johnston continued his retreat, holding back Mc-Clellan's pursuit by a cavalry engagement in the afternoon on the Yorktown road, backed up by three brigades of infantry, which forced back the Federal column. Sumner, McClellan's second in command of the Federal army, late in the day attempted to move forward by renewing the combat, but the dense forests, characteristic of that region, and the approach of night prevented his making progress. Magruder's division, followed by that of McLaws, continued the retreat during the night, as Johnston knew he had a race to make with the gunboats and transports that he divined McClellan was already sending up the York to head off his way to Richmond. Longstreet, who was left in command of the rear, placed the brigades of Pryor and R. H. Anderson, with light artillery, in the works in front of Williamsburg, which McLaws had evacuated.

Heavy rain and deep and deepening mud in all the roads characterized the 5th of May. Sumner, who had spent the night in the forest in front of Longstreet's center, in which was a rather formidable earthwork called Fort Magruder, delayed an attack that he might ration his men and reconnoiter on his right; but the impetuous Hooker ordered an attack as soon as he reached the front of the Confederate right, about 8 o'clock in the morning, pushing boldly forward a battery of eleven guns. He twice drove in the Confederate skirmishers by reinforcing his attack. Longstreet, watching the increasing force in his front, reinforced Anderson with the brigades of Wilcox, A. P. Hill and Pickett, and assuming the aggressive, moved against Hooker's flank, which with a stubborn fight was driven back, so that by 11 o'clock he was anxiously calling for help and looking for a diversion in his favor on the Federal right. Sumner ordered Kearny to Hooker's assistance, but he was still miles in the rear, floundering through the rain and mud. Longstreet's attack was successful and resulted in driving away the Federals and the capturing of nine pieces of artillery, but Kearny's arrival on the field with other batteries about 3 p. m., saved Hooker from utter defeat and enabled him to press back the Confederate line which Longstreet had reinforced with two brigades

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