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[90] course to pursue, and this contrast was in perfect harmony with the American character, which can at times combine a temporizing prudence with the strangest rashness.

On the morning of the 26th the Confederate army was in motion. Jackson left Ashland with his three divisions, marching toward the west. He was to take in rear all the positions which the Federals might attempt to defend along the Chickahominy. Branch's brigade, which was encamped higher up the river, came down by the left bank, while A. P. Hill crossed it at Meadow Bridge, in order to appear before the strong positions of Mechanicsville, and attack them in front, as soon as Jackson's cannon should announce that they were turned on the left. D. H. Hill and Longstreet were waiting for the bridge at Mechanicsville to be freed by this movement, in order to cross it immediately in succession. The first, bearing to the left, was to join hands with Jackson, and thus unite for the battle all the Confederate forces into a single army. The second was to take position on the right of A. P. Hill, and follow the course of the Chickahominy, while the left wing, formed now by Jackson, and the centre by the two Hills, would continue to advance in order to attack the right wing of the Federals, which was expected to deploy beyond the White House railway. Magruder, with his own division and that of Huger, numbering altogether about twenty-five thousand men, was left to cover Richmond and watch Mc-Clellan's left wing.

The movements of the Confederate army were not punctually executed. Jackson and his principal lieutenants were not so well acquainted as the defenders of Richmond with the country in which they were about to operate; they found it difficult to move their troops through that region, covered with woods and traversed by sinuous roads, so unlike the wide open spaces in the valley of Virginia. These unavoidable delays which Jackson had to encounter, however, did not prevent him from following Lee's instructions. After having communicated, through his scouts in the vicinity of Meadow Bridge, with the army which was coming out of Richmond, and having assured himself that he was supported in the bold movement he had undertaken, he took the White House railway for his objective point, and following as

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