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[404] smart skirmish captured thirty-seven of the Fifth Louisiana, then guarding that point, drove the remainder, and held the position. The other was at and near Mechanicsville, seven or eight miles from Richmond, when a part of McClellan's right wing was advancing toward the Chickahominy. At Ellison's Mill, about a mile from Mechanicsville, a part of Stoneman's command, with Davison's brigade of Franklin's corps, encountered
May 28, 1862.
the Confederates in considerable force, infantry, cavalry, and artillery. A brisk skirmish ensued, and at sunset the Confederates fell back to Mechanicsville, from which they were driven across the Chickahominy the next morning. On this ground a battle was fought a month later.

This bold dash was followed the next day by an inspiriting general order from McClellan, that indicated an immediate advance of the whole army on Richmond.1 Every thing was ready for such movement. The troops were

Ellison's Mill.2

rested; the material necessary for building bridges for crossing the Chickahominy had been prepared;3 the weather was not very unfavorable, and nothing seemed to offer an excuse for an hour's delay. The Commander-in-Chief

1 The order was read in all the camps. It directed the troops as they advanced beyond the Chickahominy to prepare for battle at a moment's notice, and to be entirely unencumbered, with the exception of ambulances; to carry three days rations in their haversacks, and to leave their knapsacks with the wagons, that were parked on the left bank of the stream. After giving such directions, he told them “to bear in mind that the Army of the Potomac had never yet been checked,” and directed the soldiers to “preserve in battle perfect coolness and confidence, the sure forerunners of success.” This seemed almost like cruel irony to the worn soldiers, who were painfully conscious that Magruder, with 5,000 men, had “checked” the Army of the Potomac for a whole month before Yorktown.

2 this is a view of Ellison's Mill and the scene of the skirmish, and of a battle a little later, as it appeared when the writer sketched it, at the close of May, 1866. the Confederates were posted on the hills, on which the houses are seen beyond the stream, and the Nationals were on the heights near the Mill, up which the road to Gains's Mill passes.

3 Johnston had caused all the bridges across the Chickahominy to be destroyed. General Barnard, McClellan's Chief Engineer, says in his report (page 21), that “so far as engineering operations were concerned, the army could have been thrown across the river as early as the 28th of May, when the Confederates near New Bridge could have been taken in the rear, and deprived of the power of making any formidable resistance to the passage of the right wing.” In a review of the Peninsula campaign, Barnard says, “No very extensive work was anticipated, as the bottom lands were quite dry, and no inundation had yet occurred, or was anticipated. General McClellan was not waiting for the bridges, but the bridges were waiting for General McClellan.”

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