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[293] up the formidable position that he still held between the Chickahominy and the White Oak swamp. But McClellan had made up his mind to escape from his sturdy antagonist, and there is no evidence that any of his subordinates opposed this conclusion.

On the morning of the 28th of June, Porter's corps, with a great array of heavy guns, stood on the south side of the Chickahominy, facing Lee and defiantly ready to oppose his advance. Four corps faced Richmond, extending from a fortified work on the Golding farm, on the border of the Chickahominy swamp, southward to the natural defense of the great White Oak swamp, a closed, living gate of well-armed and well-supplied men, in battle array, with well-protected flanks. Thus guarded in flanks and rear, McClellan started his 5,000 wagons and great herd of beef cattle, preceded by Keyes' corps, to open the way along the single road that led southward across the White Oak swamp toward his chosen retreat on the James. The dense forests completely concealed this movement from observation. Before noonday, Keyes had crossed the White Oak bridge and was four miles beyond it, near Charles City cross roads, guarding the approaches from Richmond by the two great highways south of the swamp. All day the impedimenta of the Federal army were forced, with Northern energy, to the rear along the hidden, muddy roads that led through the forest wilderness. This unexpected movement was so well-concealed that it was on for four-and-twenty hours before Lee was informed of it, or could divine McClellan's intentions. The morning after the battle he had hastened Stuart, followed by Ewell, who was farthest on his left, down the Chickahominy river road to Dispatch Station. Stuart spared no time in seizing the railway, damaging its track and attacking the Federal guard, which he scattered from Dispatch Station. They saved him the trouble of destroying the bridge across the Chickahominy as they retreated toward McClellan's army. Stuart hastened after these trains loaded with ammunition and supplies, which plunged into the Chickahominy, while his dashing troopers followed the railway to the White House, with fire and sword, and captured or destroyed the enormous supplies and the scattered encampments which had been gathered along that line of communication to McClellan's base of supplies.

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