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Vii. McClellan before Richmond.

the capture of Norfolk and the destruction of the Merrimac, alias Virginia, having opened James river to our navy, Commander John Rodgers, in the steamer Galena, backed by the Monitor, Aroostook, Port Royal, and Naugatuck, moved up that river unimpeded, save by the shallows on which they repeatedly grounded, to within eight miles of Richmond, where he found1 the channel thoroughly obstructed by two separate barriers of piles and vessels, the banks lined with sharp-shooters in rifle-pits, and a battery of heavy guns mounted on Drewry's Bluff,2 200 feet above the surface of the water. The river was here so narrow as to compel him to come to anchor; which he did very near the lower barrier, and within [141] 600 yards of the Rebel guns. Tie at once opened fire on tile battery, and maintainedl a most unequal contest for 3 1/2 hours; when, having exhausted his ammunition, he desisted and fell down the river. The Galena had 13 men killed and 11 wounded; the Naugatuck 2, and the Port Royal 1 wounded. The bursting of a 100-pound Parrott on the Naugatuck threatened a more serious disaster. Capt. Farrand, commanding the Rebel battery, reports his loss at 7 killed and 8 wounded.

The first collision on the Chickahominy between the advance of Gen. McClellan's army and the Rebels occurred3 near New Bridge; were the 4th Michigan, Col. Woodbury, waded the stream and assailed and drove off a superior Rebel force, losing but 8 men in all, and taking 37 prisoners, of whom 15 were wounded.

Directly afterward, Gen. Fitz-John Porter, commanding the 5th corps, on our right, was ordered by Gen. McClellan to advance from New Bridge, via Mechanicsville, to Hanover Court House, in order to facilitate and render secure Gen. McDowell's expected junction from Fredericksburg. Starting at 3 A. M.,4 in a pouring rain, our cavalry advance, under Gen. W. H. Emory, had reached at noon a point two miles southward of the Court House, where the road forks to Ashland, and where the enemy were found in position to bar our further progress. The 25th New York and Berdan's sharp-shooters speedily coming up, they were deployed by Gen. Emory, with a section of Benson's battery, and thus advanced slowly toward the enemy until reinforced by Gen. D. C. Butterfield, with four regiments of his brigade, when the enemy was charged and quickly routed; one of his guns being captured by Col. Lansing's 17th New York. The cavalry, Benson's battery, and Gen. Morell's infantry and artillery, keenly pursued the fugitives; while Martindale's brigade, with a section of artillery, advanced on the Ashland road, pushing back the enemy in his front, until ordered to reform his brigade and move up the railroad to the Court House. One regiment having taken that course, Gen. Martindale was left with but two and a half regiments and one section of Martin's battery, when he was attacked by a superior force and compelled to maintain the unequal contest for an hour.

Meantime, Gen. Porter, at the Court House, learning that his rear was thus attacked, faced his whole column about and moved rapidly to the rescue, sending the 13th and 14th New York, with Griffin's battery, directly to Martindale's assistance, pushing the 9th Massachusetts and 62d Pennsylvania through the woods on the right (west) to take the enemy in flank ; while Butterfield, with the 83d Pennsylvania and 16th Michigan, hastened through the woods still farther to the right, and completedd the rout of the enemy. The 13th New York, of Col. G. K. Warren's brigade, which, having been delayed repairing bridges, had not hitherto been in action, now came up on our left; and, the odds being too palpable, the Confederates made a rapid retreat. Their loss is stated by Gen. McClellan at some 200 killed, 730 [142] prisoners, including wounded, one 12-pound howitzer, many small arms, two railroad trains, and their camp at Hanover Court House captured and destroyed. We lost 53 killed and 344 wounded. The Rebel force thus defeated consisted of Gen. L. O'B. Branch's division of North Carolina and Georgia troops, supposed by Gen. McClellan to be 9,000 strong.

The Chickahominy, opposite Richmond, 20 to 30 miles from its mouth, is a sluggish, oozy mill-stream, three to four rods wide, often fordable, but traversing a swampy, miry bottom, generally wooded, half a mile to a mile wide, bordered by low, irregular bluffs. All the bridges by which it was previously crossed were of course destroyed in their retreat by the Rebels; but Brig.-Gen. H. M. Naglee, of Casey's division, Keyes's (4th) corps, leading our advance on the left, crossed it near Bottom's Bridge5 without difficulty, wholly unopposed; followed by the rest of the corps three days later, the bridge having meantime been rebuilt. During the three following days,6 Naglee made a spirited reconnaissance toward Richmond, and to within two miles of the James, on our left; Couch's division took up,7 by order, a position some miles in advance, at a place known as the seven Pines, on the direct road from Bottom's Bridge to Richmond; which he proceeded hastily to fortify with abatis, rifle-pits, etc., and by building and arming a small redoubt. Meantime, the remaining division (Casey's) of Keyes's corps was advanced to and encamped about the station known as Fair Oaks, on the Richmond and York River Railroad, to the right and rather in advance of Couch's position. Heintzelman's (3d) corps had crossed after Keyes's, and been stationed in his rear, but rather to the left, so as to observe the roads debouching on that side from White Oak Swamp, whereby we might be unexpectedly assailed in flank. Sumner's corps was still north of the Chickahominy, some miles higher up, ready to cross at command.

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