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[285] disposition of McClellan, and was doubtless well informed as to his fears in reference to a largely superior attacking force. Magruder and Huger were instructed to impose upon the large Federal cavalry force in their front with constant demonstrations, and if attacked to unflinchingly hold their intrenchments.

The intense heat and the lack of water exhausted Jackson's men and animals, and the reconstruction of bridges and the removal of obstacles from the roads which Fitz John Porter had destroyed and placed during his movement on Hanover Court House, delayed Jackson's march, so that his column did not reach Ashland until the night of the 25th, although his army had made 50 miles from Gordonsville in three days. By 3 a. m. of the 26th his advance, under Whiting, moved from Ashland on the Ash-cake road; by 9 a. m. it was crossing the Virginia Central railroad, near Peake's, and by 10, Branch was informed of Jackson's progress, some six hours later than Lee had expected. Part of this delay was caused by the failure of the commissary department at Richmond to provide rations for Jackson at Ashland, as had been promised him. Jackson, in person, was pushing forward with all possible dispatch and, as White writes in his ‘Life of Lee,’ with ‘vigor unabated and his spirit aglow with the ardor of battle.’ Keeping to the left and pressing toward Cold Harbor, his right guarded by Stuart's horsemen, at 3 p. m. Hood's Texans in the lead had a hot skirmish at the Totopotomoy. There the Federals destroyed the bridge, which had to be rebuilt before Jackson could cross that stream; so he was unable to reach Hundley's corner, in McClellan's rear, until after dark of the 26th. Obeying orders and bearing to the eastward, he had not passed within sight or sound of the battle that A. P. Hill, contrary to orders, had brought on at Mechanicsville, forcing Lee to follow up without the aid of Jackson and contrary to his plan of attack.

After being notified by Jackson that he had crossed the Virginia Central railroad, Branch moved down the Chickahominy by the road on its northern side, to uncover the Meadow bridges, that A. P. Hill might cross his other brigades and be in position to attack when he heard Jackson's signal guns. Branch met Porter's outposts when crossing the Virginia Central at Atlee's, where he was delayed by a vigorous skirmish. At 3 p. m., A. P. Hill,

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