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[53] it was receiving reinforcements forwarded in haste from every section of the country. Huger arrived with twelve thousand men from Norfolk; Branch, whose defeat at Newberne by Burnside we have noticed, brought nine thousand from North Carolina, and others were yet to follow. The reconnaissances of the Federal army had revealed the fact that the abandonment of Bottom's Bridge was the last step in Johnston's retreat. The latter was preparing for the defence of Meadow Bridge and New Bridge. The nature of the ground was perfectly adapted for this purpose, and the Federal general was the less likely to think of carrying this pass by main force because he could turn it by the lower course of the river, of which he had control. Everything, therefore, urged him to push his attacks by following the right bank between Bottom's Bridge and Richmond. On the 24th of May his left wing, composed of the corps of Keyes and Heintzelman, was firmly posted on the other side of the Chickahominy, and placed en echelon along the road between Richmond and Williamsburg, from Bottom's Bridge to the clearing of Seven Pines, eleven kilometres from Richmond. The rest of the army remained on the left bank of the river. The centre, consisting of Sumner's corps, was encamped in the neighborhood of the railroad-bridge; the two corps commanded by Porter and Franklin, forming the right wing, were posted in the vicinity of Gaines' Mill and Mechanicsville. The army had occupied these positions without any difficulty, having only met some weak detachments of the enemy at Seven Pines and Mechanicsville, which were easily repulsed. But it found itself thus divided into two parts by the Chickahominy, without any other communication between its right and left wings than the railway-bridge at Despatch and Bottom's Bridge; these two passages were far remote from the extreme points of Seven Pines and Mechanicsville, which were the most exposed to an attack from the enemy. It would undoubtedly have been infinitely better, under every aspect of the case, to have transferred the entire army to the right banks of the Chickahominy; but McClellan had been obliged to occupy both sides of the river and to push his right wing to the vicinity of its source, as much for the purpose of keeping up communication with Mc-Dowell's vanguard, whose arrival he was still constantly promised,

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