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[162]

Huger was sent down the Charles City road and Magruder down the Williamsburg road.

The scenes in McClellan's army at this time must have been such as would have appalled the stoutest hearts.

The historian says McClellan's column had already been swallowed in the maw of the dreary forest. It swept on fast and furious. Pioneer bands rushed along in front, clearing and repairing the single road; reconnoissance officers were seeking new routes for a haven of rest and safety. The Confederates were in the rear, pressing on with fearful power; and there was yet an expectation that Jackson's flank movement might cut off the retreat. Moments seemed hours. Back and forth dashed hot riders. Caravans of wagons, artillery, horsemen, soldiers, camp-followers, pressed through the narrow road, and at intervals swept onward like an avalanche.

The trace of agony was on the face of the commander, and the soldiers who carried muskets in their hands could perceive it.

Presently the dull boom of a cannon and its echoing shell fell grimly upon the ear, and an ominous roar behind told the enemy that his rear was attacked.

Magruder had struck the enemy's rear, but Jackson was so delayed in reconstructing the Grapevine bridge that he was unable to get up in time to participate.

On the march down the Darbytown road our division was joined by President Davis and staff, and, together with our general officers, made a body of such fine-looking men that I will never forget the picture.

I ought to describe some of the scenes on these marches, but it would detain you too long; in almost any direction you might look you could see large columns of smoke, showing that the enemy was destroying his quartermaster and commissary stores, and, not satisfied with that, burning up farm-houses, barns, haystacks, fences—everything that would burn, all through pure spite.

The fields over which we passed were strewn with all sorts of military accoutrements, guns and swords thrown away, abandoned wagons, ambulances, and all sorts of things that belong to an army.

On the evening of the 29th, just before sundown, we were allowed to go into camp to get a little rest. In a short time the whole field was covered with camp-fires, men frying meat, baking bread, making coffee—sure enough coffee, for we had captured it from the enemy.


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