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[59] waters, while the roots were buried in a muddy bottom impracticable for men and horses. It was found necessary to open a passage across this forest, and to lay the flooring of the bridge, formed of unhewn pieces of timber bound together by cords or bind-weed, sometimes on piles sunk into the bed of the river, sometimes on the stumps of the trees, which were cut down to a proper height. No survey had been made of the country beyond the shores of the river. Higher up still, in the neighborhood of New Bridge, two trestle-bridges had been constructed and almost entirely placed in position. It only remained to lay the flooring. But the open space in which they stood exposed them to the fire of the enemy, which had soon interrupted the work, and it could only be completed by the aid of an aggressive movement on the right bank.

The Federal left wing was composed of four divisions, each from six to eight thousand men strong. Casey, who commanded the newest regiments in the whole army, had very imprudently been placed at the most exposed point of the whole line, and occupied a clearing about one kilometre in advance of Seven Pines, where he had erected two small redoubts mounting a few fieldpieces. His pickets had been pushed only one thousand metres beyond that point. Couch, with his division, was at Seven Pines, near Fair Oaks station, situated sixteen hundred metres to the north, and along that portion of the Nine Mile road which connects these two points. At a distance of two kilometres from Seven Pines, where the Williamsburg road emerges from a large clearing to enter a wood, there was a line of breastworks and small redoubts occupied by Kearny's division. The fourth, Hooker's, had been sent a considerable distance south to watch the passes of White Oak Swamp.

The army of the Potomac was thus unfortunately scattered; its divisions, posted in front of Seven Pines, at White Oak Swamp and Mechanicsville, could not afford each other mutual support, and they formed a vast semicircle of nearly forty kilometres in extent. General McClellan estimated that it would have taken two days march for Franklin's division to reach Casey's encampments. The Confederates, on the contrary, occupying the chord of the arc, could as easily move to the front of

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