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[86] Creek; Sykes and Morell were posted on the neighboring heights of Gaines' Mill, resting their left on the swamps of the Chickahominy just where it begins to become wooded. With the exception of some small breastworks and a few abatis on the left bank of the Beaver-dam, no works had been erected to protect these positions. General McClellan had always intended to abandon them as soon as the time had arrived for transferring his base of operations to the James River. He had never given up the idea of this change of base, so often projected and always postponed; he had even begun making preparations for it within the last few days, by sending a certain number of vessels loaded with provisions into the waters of the James. Such, therefore, being his intention, he had deemed it useless to cover his right wing with defensive works like those extending along the rest of his front; he soon had cause bitterly to regret this.

Two principal passages, each composed of two bridges thrown alongside of each other across the Chickahominy, connected the right wing with the rest of the army. The lower passage was formed by the bridge on which Sumner had crossed on the day of the battle of Fair Oaks, and by another constructed under the direction of Colonel Alexander, whose name it bore. They gave access to the extremity of the vast clearing, named after Doctor Trent, on the right side of the river, where the headquarters were. The other passage, situated two thousand five hundred metres higher up, and composed of the Duane and Woodbury bridges, named after two engineer officers, connected the positions occupied by Porter's left with Golding's clearing, which stretches beyond the former on the same side of the Chickahominy.

The Federal line extended from Golding to the border of White Oak Swamp, forming the arc of a circle, of which Bottom's Bridge was the centre. It was covered throughout by considerable works; redoubts placed at intervals were connected by breastworks built of wood and earth, and by vast abatis; and numerous clearings, which afforded a considerable field of fire to the artillery along the whole front, prevented the enemy from approaching under cover. Franklin's corps occupied the position adjoining the Golding clearing. Sumner, on his left, in front of the Courtenay farm, rested on Fair Oaks. Heintzelman's line,

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