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[58] verdure. The road forks within ten kilometres of Richmond, at a place called Seven Pines. One branch continues in the original direction, and approaches the capital by following the course of the James. The other, turning to the right, intersects the railroad at Fair Oaks station, emerging afterward into a large clearing, in the midst of which, at Old Tavern, it again connects with the Richmond road to New Bridge and Cold Harbor. This is the Nine Mile road. The railway, forming an almost straight line, runs along the summit of a slight undulation which separates the waters of White Oak Swamp from those of the Chickahominy. After rising upon the right bank of this water-course by passing through a deep cut, it crosses the woods without meeting with any work of importance to mark its course. There are three stations along the section of the line then occupied by the Federals—Dispatch, in the vicinity of the bridge; Fair Oaks, the nearest to Richmond; and between the two, Savage Station, situated in a large clearing at the intersection of several roads. These forest roads are very numerous; they form so many connecting links between isolated plantations, farms or country-houses, each standing in the centre of a cleared space surrounded by woods on every side; most of them are perpendicular to the Williamsburg turnpike, and run as far as the Chickahominy; but among these dense copses they constitute an inextricable labyrinth for those who are not familiar with the locality in all its details.

In order to approach Richmond, General McClellan was desirous of gaining ground gradually on the right bank of the Chickahominy, and after each step taken on that side to connect his two wings by throwing new bridges over this dangerous river. Sumner's corps, which occupied the left bank as far as the neighborhood of Gaines' Mill, had already constructed two bridges in conformity with this plan, one at three thousand five hundred metres, the other at six kilometres, above the railroad-bridge. In executing this work he had been able to cross to the opposite bank without meeting the enemy, and had completed it in a few days, thanks to the skill and ingenuity of his soldiers. The river, by a multitude of sinuous turnings, formed a swamp three or four hundred metres wide, lying in the shadow of gigantic trees, whose trunks rose to a height of fifty metres above the

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