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[57] quitting the scene of their glorious but fruitless victory, returned to take position at Gaines' Mill. Everything indicated that the banks of the Chickahominy were soon to be ensanguined by a desperate struggle.

The Confederates were in fact collecting all their disposable forces for the protection of Richmond. The civil government as well as the personnel of the administration, who in that capital, as at Washington, fancied that all the interest of the war was centred in the defence of their bureaus, had passed from the utter discouragement caused by the loss of the Virginia to the most absolute confidence. On the 28th and 29th of May, considerable reinforcements came to join Johnston's army, Anderson's division among the rest; this officer, on seeing McDowell rushing in pursuit of Jackson, instead of following in his tracks, had quickly brought back his troops from Bowling Green to Richmond.

The position of the army of the Potomac seemed, on the other hand, to invite an attack. Its left, thrown over the unfriendly bank of the Chickahominy, and inactive for the last seven days, occupied a position which was at once menacing to the Confederates and dangerous to itself. Its front extended between the Chickahominy and White Oak Swamp. This latter water-course is composed of a succession of swamps running in a parallel direction with the former for a considerable distance, but the unequal width of which at certain points reduces the space comprised between them to four or five kilometres; at the elevation of Bottom's Bridge, the swamps give place to a stream which, inclining to the left, carries their muddy waters into the Chickahominy, a few kilometres below. The Williamsburg road and the West Point railway, after crossing the Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge and at Dispatch, follow a parallel course in a direct line to Richmond. The bridge at Dispatch could not be thoroughly repaired before the 30th of May; all the troops posted on the right bank of the Chickahominy obtained their supplies, therefore, by the turnpike; and to facilitate the distribution of rations most of these troops were encamped in the successive clearings through which this road passes. On the left, dense woods, traversed only by narrow paths, stretch out as far as the impenetrable thickets which cover the stagnant waters of White Oak Swamp with eternal

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