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The prudent forethought of General Magruder had fortified a line just below Williamsburg, across the narrow peninsula, from the James to the York, the right and centre of which Longstreet occupied, but through an oversight or carelessness, the left was neglected and remained open. This by chance General Hancock had that morning discovered, and he promptly moved in and took possession of the two left redoubts, thus securing a fortified position in our own line, in Longstreet's flank and rear, with nothing between him and Williamsburg, or between him and Longstreet's road of retreat. Had these timid division commanders, of West Point, ‘pursuing,’ as McClellan telegraphed to Washington, ‘a routed and flying foe,’ but followed up the advantage thus promptly seized upon by General Hancock, they might at once have occupied the road in Longstreet's rear, and cut him off completely. But though in hot pursuit till they came up with the enemy, their ardor seems to have been greatly cooled by the sight of him, and their policy of rapid pursuit was rapidly changed to timid waiting and careful prudence, for when Hancock, appreciating the value of his find, sent back for reinforcements that he might further advance, General Sumner, who was in command—for McClellan was still tarrying at Yorktown and did not appear till all was over—not only refused to reinforce, but peremptorily ordered Hancock back, and he got no reinforcements till after our charge was over and McClellan had come up. So he did not advance, and was preparing to retire when we burst upon him. He had five regiments and ten guns, about 3,000 men. He had abundant support close at hand, and his position was a strong closed redoubt on a crest near the head of Saunder's Pond, on Queen's Creek, about a mile to the left of Fort Magruder, which it commanded, being on the same continuously open ground. He had, he says, full view of the whole Confederate line. But he had done us no harm, the attacks upon Longstreet had now ceased, the day was over, Johnston had accomplished every purpose of his halt, and was ready to go on when morning came. Hancock himself was preparing to retire.

But Hill and Early, learning of his isolated position, and anxious for a share in the glory of that day, which till then was all with Longstreet's Brigades, asked and obtained leave from General Johnston to attack and capture the line. Hill had four elegant brigades— Early, Rodes, Featherston, and Raines—a force which, properly handled, could have picked up and carried away every man, gun and horse which Hancock had, for, in fact, his position was a dangerous

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