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[161] and, looking southward, we could plainly see a large balloon which the enemy had sent up for the purpose of reconnoitering, and I heard General Pryor remark, ‘I am afraid those devils will get into Richmond in spite of all we can do.’

In a little while troops were pressed forward to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy, and it was soon discovered that he had retreated across the Chickahominy and destroyed the bridges, but as he might yet give battle to preserve his communication, some cavalry and Ewell's division was sent to seize the York River railroad.

During the afternoon clouds of dust showed plainly that the Yankee army was in motion, and, judging by the roads he had taken, it was soon discovered that McClellan was making his way to the James.

Our divisions followed on down the Chickahominy, and on Sunday morning it was ascertained that the enemy had abandoned his fortifications and was in full retreat toward his gunboats on the James river.

To Generals Magruder and Huger had been assigned the important duty of watching the enemy, and to cut off or press his retreat.

The result of the battle of Gaines' Mill was to force McClellan out of all his strong positions north of the Chickahominy, and, with his communications cut off on the Pamunkey river and confronted by our forces on the south side of the Chickahominy, it was supposed that he would be forced into a capitulation.

But the enemy had been imperfectly matched at a conjuncture the most critical in all the seven days battles around Richmond, when liberty hovered o'er us and seemed ready to perch upon the Confederate banners, these generals signally failed to perform the duty assigned them.

On the morning of the 29th of June, Magruder and Huger were attacked, but they drove the enemy down the roads and through the woods, passed their breastworks, and found them deserted, and, instead of profiting by this discovery and commencing the pursuit, these generals allowed the foe to pass across their front, instead of piercing his line of retreat by advancing down theNine-mile road and the Williamsburg road, which would have cut the forces of the enemy into so many fragments.

On the same day, June 29, our division and that of A. P. Hill's were ordered to recross the Chickahominy at New Bridge and move by the Darbytown and Longbridge roads to intercept the retreat.


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