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[277] regiments and six guns, and by participating gave the odds very largely to Porter.

On this same 27th of May, Johnston, having information of McDowell's advance from Fredericksburg, determined to strike a blow at McClellan before that large reinforcement should reach him. He at once began the concentration of his army toward his left, with the intention of throwing the larger portion of it upon McClellan's right by a flank movement across the Chickahominy above Mechanicsville. At nightfall of that day his troops were on the march for their assigned positions, but just before dark, Johnston, who had called his division commanders together for final instructions, informed these officers of Jackson's great victory at Winchester, and that McDowell was already marching north and away from Richmond. A discussion followed, in which these various commanders expressed differing and diverging views, the upshot of which was that the movement was abandoned and the troops were ordered back, most of them to their old positions, and no attack was made.

On the 29th and 30th, D. H. Hill made a reconnoissance, in front of his division on the Williamsburg road, along the Federal front. The information thus gained led Johnston to plan, on the evening of the 30th, for another aggressive movement; D. H. Hill's division, on the Williamsburg road, was to advance, supported by Longstreet's. Huger's division, which had just arrived from Norfolk, was to move on Hill's right, extending the line south to the White Oak swamp; G. W. Smith's division, under Whiting, was to move by the New Bridge road and take position on Hill's left. Provision was also made for protecting the left of this movement against attack from the north of the Chickahominy. A deluge of rain fell on the night of the 30th, which swelled the Chickahominy so that it swept away most of the bridges that McClellan was constructing across that stream; that also helped to further convert the already rain-soaked country between the Chickahominy and White Oak swamp, the larger portion of which was covered with flat, tangled forest, into one great swamp. For a direct attack, Johnston's plan was a good one, but it failed in the execution, because his subordinates did not strictly follow his orders in moving to the field of action and each

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