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[105] the evening, had prevented the fugitives from approaching it. In the midst of the obscurity, the Union general Reynolds had been separated from his men by the enemy's pickets. But despite a few incidents of this nature, the retreat was ably conducted, and at daybreak not a single straggler, wounded man nor cannon remained on the ground which had been occupied during the night by Porter's troops. The regulars were the last to cross, after which they entirely destroyed the magnificent bridge which had cost so much trouble to construct.

The Federals had not succeeded in preventing the Confederates from occupying the left bank of the Chickahominy, but they had made them pay so dear for its possession that the latter did not feel disposed to make an immediate attempt to force a passage, for the purpose of disputing with them the opposite side of the river.

While the darkness of a short summer night was covering the mournful and silent march of the Federal soldiers who had just fought the battle of Gaines' Mill, a blazing pine-wood fire was crackling under the tall acacias which commanded the south entrance of the Alexander bridge. It was on this spot that the headquarters of the army had been situated during the preceding days. This camp had been broken up like all the rest, for the entire army was ready to march; but the tall flitting shadows, projected here and there by the flame upon the dark background of the surrounding trees, showed that its occupants had not yet deserted it.

In fact, General McClellan had assembled several of his generals around this fire, and was consulting with them regarding the dispositions to be made for the following day, upon which the very existence of the army of the Potomac seemed to depend. The idea was for a moment entertained of playing double or quits on the right bank of the Chickahominy the game which had just been lost on the other side. It was McClellan himself who, forgetting his habitual circumspection, and emboldened by the imminence of the danger, thought of taking advantage of the enemy's movement against his right wing to throw himself upon unprotected Richmond with all the forces that were left him. The Confederates, being separated from their capital by the Chickahominy,

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