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 until about 10 o'clock at night without doing a particle of good as far as I could see—except keeping up a noise and perhaps deterring a Federal advance—when we were withdrawn and bivouacked in the woods for the night, tired, worn out, disgusted, and with nothing to eat, but glad to have gotten off with our lives. Next morning the whole plateau was silent and deserted, all of McClellan's army gone. It doubtless would have gone anyhow without a fight, as he was making for Harrison's Landing, to accomplish his celebrated ‘change of base.’ He conducted his retreat well, and as a ‘stern chase’ is always a ‘long chase,’ we did not attempt to follow. After a short rest we marched for Westover, but took the wrong road, so that McClellan's army was all collected between Westover Heights and the banks of the James river before we got there. Here, unfortunately, the cavalry, which had reached there first with some artillery, could not resist the temptation to let fly a few shots, which had no other effect than to disclose to the enemy our presence, and, of course, the cavalry was soon driven off and the heights were occupied by a large body of troops. A surprise being now out of the question, no attack was made, and the army soon withdrew to the vicinity of Richmond, not caring to stay longer in that malarial region, which, as it was, proved very deleterious to the health of the troops. Thus ended the Seven Days battles, and thus Richmond was relieved from the presence of McClellan's army. This was a great feat to have accomplished—the driving of McClellan's army from within five miles of Richmond to the James river, at Westover, with great loss of life and military stores; but if General Lee's plans had been carried out that army would have been destroyed. Not as much was effected as was hoped for, but it is easy to be wise after the fact, and much, very much, was accomplished. Richmond breathed free, and the Army of Northern Virginia, after a little rest and recuperation, buckled on its armor to meet its old foe, reinforced by Pope's army, on the plains of Manassas. The garrulity of an old soldier is proverbial, and anniversaries bring reminiscences, especially of wartimes. If the younger people will read and study the civil war, which appears now to some to be ‘ancient history,’ they will learn what war was forty years ago.
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