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[123] heavy column across the Chickahominy and extended his line towards the north of Richmond, General R. E. Lee was then acting as advisory commander of all of the armies of the Confederacy. He concurred with Mr. Davis in the opinion that McClellan should be attacked on the other side of the Chickahominy before he matured his preparations for a seige of Richmond (1 Rise and Fall, p. 120). When General Lee communicated their views to General Johnston, he told General Lee that his plan was to send A. P. Hill to the right and rear of the enemy, and G. W. Smith to the left flank, with orders to make simultaneous attacks for the purpose of doubling up the army, and sending Longstreet to cross at Mechanicsville bridge and attack him in front. McClellan's line on his right was not then well fortified, and the general disposition of the Federal forces was more favorable for a Confederate advance than a month later, when General Lee concentrated a heavy force on the left and turned it. After McDowell's movement to Hanover Courthouse, when his vanguard was checked by Branch, the blows stricken by Jackson in such rapid succession in the Valley had excited apprehension so grave in the mind of Mr. Lincoln that despite McClellan's protest, he ordered the withdrawal of that command to Fredericksburg for the protection of Washington City. For reasons that were unsatisfactory to the President, General Johnston, after marching and counter-marching G. W. Smith's and Longstreet's divisions, abandoned his first plan of operations, and ordered the troops to assume substantially their original positions. President Davis, in his work, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy,’ takes the ground that, after waiting a week and giving McClellan the opportunity to fortify, operations should have been delayed another day till the Chickahominy had risen high enough to sweep away the bridges and till Huger had had time to move up his artillery from his position near Richmond.

The popular impression that the bridges across the Chickahominy had already been swept away when the fight at Seven Pines began on the 30th of May, 1861, is totally unfounded. The corps of Heintzelman and Keyes were then south, and that of Sumner north of the Chickahominy. The plan outlined by General Johnston was, briefly, that Huger should move from his camp, near Richmond, early on that morning down the Charles City road and vigorously attack the enemy's right, and Longstreet and Hill moving on the same road should attack the center and left of the force south of the bridge,

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