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2d. Couch's division was engaged before the attack of G. W. Smith, his advance having taken position in front of Seven Pines since two o'clock for the purpose of supporting Casey (Keyes' report). Two of his brigades, Peck's and Devens', had been brought into line since half-past 3 o'clock (Naglee's report). It was whilst the latter were engaged on the Nine Mile road that, about half-past 4 o'clock, Johnston, at the head of G. W. Smith's troops, swept down upon Abercrombie's brigade, the third of Couch's division, at Fair Oaks, which rendered it necessary for the Federals to make a change of front (Keyes' report). Shortly after, at five or a quarter-past five o'clock, this attack broke the line which had thus been formed. Couch, four regiments and one battery, was driven back (McClellan's report) north of the railway, where he was soon joined by Sumner (Sumner's deposition before the committee on the conduct of the war).1 At the same time the remainder of Keyes' corps lost possession of Seven Pines (Naglee's report). According to the deposition above quoted, Sumner only effected a junction with Couch after the latter had become separated from the greatest portion of his division, and the sworn statement of several eye-witnesses enables us to fix the hour of six o'clock as the time when Smith, the conqueror of the right wing of that division, met Sumner in the clearing of Allen's farm.

These data, which we have only adopted after a careful examination, show, first, that the battle, which was begun by Longstreet before one o'clock, had continued for more than three hours before Johnston ordered Smith to take part in it; second, that the latter at halfpast four o'clock only found a portion of Couch's division at Fair Oaks, the remainder having been engaged for the last hour or two in contending with Longstreet, and that he did not meet Sumner's heads of column until an hour and a half after this attack. We may conclude, therefore, that if the offensive movement of Smith had not been delayed during those three hours, the positions of Fair Oaks and Seven Pines, which fell almost immediately after this movement, would have been captured at three instead of five o'clock, and that Sumner not having yet crossed the Chickahominy at that moment, Smith, instead of being obliged to give him battle, would have completed the defeat of Keyes' and Heintzelman's two corps. We shall not venture further with hypotheses, our object being simply to specify the points of fact concerning which we are at variance with the illustrious general who was wounded at Fair Oaks.

May, 1875.

1 Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, vol. i., p. 362.

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