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[91] straight a line as possible, preceded by the whole of Stuart's cavalry, he started on his march; he expected to meet the enemy on the borders of the Tolopotamoi.

While Jackson was approaching this water-course, the banks of which he was to find deserted, Lee had also put his army in motion. General A. P. Hill had massed his division in front of Meadow Bridge for the purpose of forcing the passage of that bridge as soon as Jackson had turned it by extending his left beyond Mechanicsville. Having advanced at the appointed time, he had met with no resistance around the bridge itself, of which he took possession without striking a blow; but a serious engagement took place shortly after between his troops and those of McCall, forming the extremity of the Federal line on that side.

McCall had only left one regiment and a battery at Mechanicsville, and this detachment had fallen back upon the rest of the division, after having checked for a moment by its fire the columns which were climbing the bare slopes of the hill on the summit of which the village stands. In was on Beaver-dam Creek, in fact, that the Federal general was awaiting the enemy. This marshy stream, which runs into the Chickahominy though a ravine with precipitous sides, is only accessible by two roads, one, to the north, leading to Bethesda church and the Pamunky; the other, to the south, communicates with Cold Harbor junction by way of Ellyson's Mills. McCall had entrusted Reynolds' brigade with the defence of the first pass, while Seymour was directed to guard the second. His third brigade, commanded by Meade, was held in reserve. A. P. Hill, having reached the Mechanicsville heights, deployed his division, nearly fourteen thousand men strong, in front of the formidable positions occupied by the Federals. His namesake, D. H. Hill, followed in his rear for the purpose of extending to the left, with Ripley's brigade in advance. Lee directed in person all the movements which were to place his army in line. President Davis had come out of Richmond to witness the first act of this great conflict. The Confederates knew that it was easy to turn the position of the Federals by attacking it from the north. If McCall was supported on that side—that is to say, on his right—by considerable forces, Jackson could not fail to meet it on his route, and the noise of cannon would soon

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