action, and these but by twos or threes at a time, making their repulse certain from the massed Federal infantry and the tiers of batteries in front of them.
Notwithstanding the results of the day's combats and the almost impregnable nature of his position, McClellan
was unwilling to try another issue, and as soon as dark fell, he ordered Porter
to lead a retreat toward Harrison
's landing, on the James
, where he had ready for his army an intrenched camp covered by an extended line of gunboats.
His thought may be imagined from two lines in his retreat order to Porter
: ‘In case you should find it impossible to move your heavy artillery, you are to spike the guns and destroy the carriages;’ and, ‘Stimulate your men by informing them that reinforcements, etc., have arrived at our new base.’
The appearance of the road passed over in the retreat, looked, the next morning, like one followed by a routed army.
Abandoned wagons were all along the way, and thousands of muskets were scattered along its sides.
, a Federal corps commander, writes: ‘It was like the retreat of a whipped army.
We retreated like a parcel of sheep; everybody on the road at the same time, and a few shots from the rebels would have stricken the whole command in panic.’
On the 2d of July, which turned out to be a very rainy day, Lee
in pursuit on the direct road to Harrison
's landing, but that slow-moving general only made two miles of progress, and went into bivouac when he reached the River
The army was countermarched, on the 3d, to Willis
' church, to there take the road toward Charles City Court House and leading to the right flank of McClellan
's new base and position on the James
But the guides again misled, in that country of tangled roads involved in worse tangled forests and swamps, and his advance, under Longstreet
, was again retarded, so that he did not appear in the vicinity of Westover
, on the right flank and front of McClellan
's fortified camp, until noon of July 4th, to find that the skill of the Federal
engineers, and the energy and zeal of its Northern soldiery, had encircled the entire front of the Federal
camp with formidable breastworks, well supplied with artillery, the approaches to which were within the range of the gunboats, stationed in the James
all along the rear of the Federal