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[584] under Gibbon and Doubleday, formed in column by brigades, were ordered to support Meade by keeping a little in the rear, the former on his right, the latter on his left. He had about five thousand men under his orders, Doubleday as many, Gibbon nearly six thousand, which swelled the number of effective combatants at Reynolds' disposal to sixteen thousand. The fog was so dense that from the Confederate lines one could hear, without being able to distinguish the enemy, the words of command given by the officers. The Federals marched at random, and consequently very slowly; there was nothing to guide them except the vague remembrance of certain objects that had been seen the day before. The plain was intersected by wide and deep ditches, which delayed the progress of the artillery and broke the ranks of the infantry. At last, between nine and ten o'clock, Meade had passed beyond the road, and was preparing for the attack, when the fog suddenly cleared off, enabling the Confederates, who had hitherto only exchanged a few skirmishing shots with the Federals, to see their columns. Stuart's cannon, posted along the road, immediately opened an oblique fire upon Meade, which compelled him to halt. His left brigade was posted en potence to sustain the division artillery, which was trying to silence the enemy's guns. At the expiration of half an hour Doubleday came to relieve him, deploying in front of Stuart, while Meade continued his onward march. This demonstration on the part of the Confederate light batteries thus occupied a whole division, which, had it been able to follow that of Meade, might perhaps have secured the success of the attack which the latter was about to make. But the Federals were fighting with a river at their back, and the farther they got from their bridges, the more they feared to be cut off from them in case of a reverse; the necessity of covering their communications, therefore, already absorbed a great portion of their strength.

While Doubleday was facing to the left, Meade was advancing toward the railroad. Not an enemy was to be seen along the skirts of the woods. Jackson was hiding his battalions, and waiting for his adversary to approach within easy range. The Federal artillery, however, covered the copses occupied by A. P. Hill's division with shells, and inflicted considerable losses upon it. Pelham had retired, but Doubleday was not yet ordered to

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Meade (6)
Doubleday (5)
Stuart (2)
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Reynolds (1)
Pelham (1)
Stonewall Jackson (1)
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