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[52] he might have reposed in the capacity of the three commanders who had been forced upon him by the President at the opening of the campaign. The army corps had been reduced to five in number, each with two divisions, and an effective force of from fifteen to nineteen thousand men. This subdivision rendered them more manageable, while the command of the new corps fell, by right of seniority, upon Generals Franklin and Fitzjohn Porter, two officers for whom he entertained a particular regard.

The ground on which he was about to operate may be described in few words. It presents but a single obstacle, the Chickahominy—a serious one, it is true. This river, after passing within seven or eight kilometres of Richmond, turns off, continuing to flow in a south-easterly direction, so that Bottom's Bridge lies about eighteen or twenty kilometres from that city. Taking its rise to the north-east of the capital of Virginia, it winds through a valley regularly enclosed on both sides averaging eight or nine hundred metres in breadth. Following its downward course, we find Meadow Bridge first, over which passes a wagon-road and the Gordonsville railway; lower down, the bridge of Mechanicsville, commanded on the left bank by the hamlet of that name, is situated at the point where this river runs nearest to Richmond. Here the surrounding hills on each side are destitute of trees, and presently, on the road between Richmond and Cold Harbor, we come to New Bridge, which connects the hamlet of Old Tavern with the Gaines' Mill heights. One kilometre below this bridge the forest again enfolds the banks of the Chickahominy, and does not leave it for ten kilometres lower down, at the bridge of the West Point railway, which is situated one kilometre above Bottom's Bridge. The only tributaries of the Chickahominy are, on the left bank, a small stream called Beaver-dam Creek, between Mechanicsville and Gaines' Mill, and on the right bank a vast wooded swamp, known as White Oak Swamp, the waters of which empty into the river a few kilometres below Bottom's Bridge, This swamp, which has its origin in the immediate vicinity of Richmond, is absolutely impassable, except at two or three points, where it becomes narrow, affording passage to a few crossroads.

The Confederate army was encamped around Richmond, where

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