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[60] one as of the other; and after having menaced the extreme right of the Federals at Meadow Bridge, they had only eleven or twelve kilometres to march to reach Fair Oaks and fall upon their extreme left. Johnston was not the man to leave his adversary in so perilous a situation without turning it to account. His army, assembled around Richmond, consisted of four large divisions, each comprising five or six brigades, under Generals Longstreet, G. Smith, D. H. Hill and Huger; it numbered about sixty thousand effective soldiers.

On the 30th he gave the necessary instructions for battle on the morrow. Huger, following a road called the Charles City road, was to pass to the right of White Oak Swamp, and then cross this marsh, so as to attack Keyes' positions in flank, on the Williamsburg road, whilst Hill, debouching by this road, was to charge them in front. Longstreet, following in Hill's rear, was to sustain his attack. Smith's orders were to proceed to Old Tavern, in order to cover the left wing of the army in case the Federals should attempt to cross the Chickahominy near New Bridge; otherwise, to come and take part in the battle by entering into line to the left of Fair Oaks station.

During the evening a tropical storm burst upon the two armies, and in the midst of profound darkness poured torrents of rain upon the ground on which they were to measure their strength. On the morning of the 31st this clayey soil was half submerged; the passage of a single vehicle was sufficient to turn the roads into inextricable mud-holes; the smallest streams were swelling as one looked at them, while the Chickahominy, assuming a reddish tint, was beginning to overflow its banks and to spread over the plains adjoining, which were already very muddy. Far from allowing the obstacles which the condition of the ground was about to interpose to turn him from his purpose, Johnston only saw in it an additional motive for giving battle, being convinced that the mud and the overflow would be more fatal to the Federals, scattered along a line too extended, than to the army which was compactly gathered around him.

At break of day that army took up its line of march in the presence of the whole population of Richmond, which had come out of the city to encourage those to whom its defence was entrusted. It

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