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[294]

The steadily coming messages from Stuart soon satisfied Lee that McClellan must be seeking another base, but the question as to what one, he could not, as yet, decide. Two ways were open. He could reach the peninsula by the lower fords of the Chickahominy, as Grant did two years later. If he did this, it was necessary for Lee to remain north of the Chickahominy and pursue him toward Williamsburg. McClellan's alternative was to seek the James, which he was already doing, but unknown to Lee. The bold front presented by Porter was a serious obstacle in the way of pursuing McClellan's rear, so Ewell was ordered to hold Bottom's bridge, across the Chickahominy on the Williamsburg road, while Stuart watched the roads farther down leading to the peninsula. It did not take the hot June sun long to dry up the common roads by which McClellan was retreating, and the clouds of dust from these roads, late in the day of the 28th, told the observant Stuart what was going on, and he quickly apprised Lee that McClellan was in full retreat toward the James.

On the morning of the 29th, at the dawn of day, Lee took up the pursuit of his retreating foe. Longstreet and A. P. Hill crossed the Chickahominy at the New bridge, opposite to which they had bivouacked, and marched southward with orders to take the Darbytown road to the Long bridge until they should strike the right flank of McClellan's line of retreat. Magruder preceded these down the Williamsburg road, through the Seven Pines battlefield, and between the Chickahominy and the White Oak swamps. Huger was sent along the Charles City road on the south side of White Oak swamp, while Holmes led his 6,000 down the River road to strike the line of retreat to Malvern hill. Jackson was left to rebuild Grapevine bridge, to which a road led from Old Cold Harbor, with orders to cross and follow McClellan's rear.

Lee did his best to strike McClellan's retreat with some of these marching columns, in the afternoon of Sunday, June 29th. The Federal army was stretched along the road from Savage Station to Malvern hill. Keyes, followed by the remnants of Porter's corps, led the advance and guarded the approaches to the Quaker road, along which the trains were moving to and across Malvern hill. The fragments of McCall's and Slocum's divisions had crossed the White Oak swamp and encamped

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