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[298]

The Federals had held their line of retreat for another day, though with considerable loss, and when darkness came the corps commanders, without waiting for orders from the commanding general, took up their line of retreat toward the position that McClellan, in person, had selected on the James, passing through the strong force of infantry and the line of powerful artillery that had already been placed across the Malvern ridge to guard the way to the longed — for refuge. McClellan's night dispatch of the 30th, to Secretary of War Stanton, reads: ‘Another day of desperate fighting. I fear I shall be forced to abandon my material to save my men under cover of the gunboats. You must send us very large reinforcements.’

July 1st, the last day of the Seven Days battles around Richmond, found the Federal army in probably the strongest position it had yet held, on Malvern ridge, a tongue of high land projecting southeastward, almost to the James, between the two principal branches of Turkey Island creek, which meet, near the southwestern end of this ridge, about a mile from the mouth of this creek in the James. This ridge was not only commanding in elevation, but the larger portion of it, where occupied by the Federal army, was cleared and open land, which could be swept by artillery, while its slopes extended to swampy grounds along the bordering creeks.

McClellan placed his main line at right angles to this ridge and to the Quaker road that ran along its crest just south of the junction with the road leading to Charles City cross-roads by Willis' church, along which Jackson would advance, and the one leading to Richmond by way of Darbytown, along which would be the advance of Longstreet and those under him. The flanks of this Federal front extended to the edge of the bluffs above the swampy branches of Turkey run. A cloud of sharpshooters covered the front. Couch's corps was behind these, on the right of the road, with Heintzelman's and Sumner's corps in his rear, but farther extended to the east. Morrell was on the left of the Quaker road, with Sykes in his rear, covering a cross road leading to Holmes' position on the River road. The whole front was faced with protected batteries, while others occupied commanding positions in the rear near his flanks. This made the approach from the Confederate side very difficult, as

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