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[133] head of cattle had thus followed a single road, a mere woodland path, constantly occupied by troops on the march, or obstructed either by infantry or cavalry, amid the din of battle, which was heard simultaneously in front, in the rear and on the flank, and had travelled a distance of more than thirty kilometres in forty-eight hours. General McClellan had good cause to consider such a march as an almost unlooked — for success, and the manner in which it was conducted was highly creditable to the administrative departments of the Federal army.

Nevertheless, although this army had fortunately escaped from a perilous situation, it could not remain in the positions which it occupied from Frazier's Farm to Haxall's Landing. Not only was it necessary that it should be concentrated for purposes of defence, provisions and rest, but it was also compelled by the configuration of the course of the James to leave Haxall's Landing, and look for a more favorable point for revictualling lower down. In fact, the James River becomes so narrow above its confluence with the Appomattox at City Point, that vessels going up to Haxall's would have been constantly exposed to the fire of batteries erected by the enemy on the right bank of the river; consequently, Commodore Rodgers, at his first interview with McClellan, had recommended Harrison's Landing as the most favorable point to establish depots for the army. It was here, therefore, that its march was to terminate, for it could not think of remaining on White Oak Swamp, or even at Malvern, receiving its supplies by land from Harrison's Landing; it would have been starved in a very few days.

Malvern Hill first, then Harrison's Landing, were therefore the two stages in the journey naturally appointed for the army of the Potomac. General McClellan had no intention of defending Frazier's Farm and Glendale, and was waiting for the reports of the generals who had just fought in those positions, to send them the order to fall back. An immediate retreat, however, had become so necessary that they took upon themselves to carry it into effect. Franklin, the most distant, began his movement about ten o'clock in the evening, having previously notified the headquarters of his intention. His neighbors were only apprised of this movement by General Seymour, who, while wandering about

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