Brigadier-General Pendleton was directed to employ the Reserve Artillery, so as to resist any approach of the enemy toward Richmond, to superintend that portion of it posted to aid in the operations of the north bank, and hold the remainder ready for use when it might be required.
In consequence of unavoidable delays the whole of General Jackson's command did not arrive at Ashland in time to enable him to reach the point designated on the 25th.
His march on the 26th was consequently longer than had been anticipated, and his progress being also retarded by the enemy, A. P. Hill did not begin his movement until 3 p.m., when he crossed the river and advanced upon Mechanicsville. After a sharp conflict he drove the enemy from his intrenchments, and forced him to take refuge in his works on the left bank of Beaver Dam, about 1 mile distant. This position was a strong one, the banks of the creek in front being high and almost perpendicular, and the approach to it over open fields, commanded by the fire of artillery and infantry intrenched on the opposite side. The difficulty of crossing the stream had been increased by felling the woods on its banks and destroying the bridges.
Jackson being expected to pass Beaver Dam above and turn the enemy's right, a direct attack was not made by General Hill. One of his regiments on the left of his line crossed the creek to communicate with Jackson and remained until after dark, when it was withdrawn. Longstreet and D. H. Hill crossed the Mechanicsville Bridge as soon as it was uncovered and could be repaired, but it was late before they reached the north bank of the Chickahominy. D. H. Hill's leading brigade, under Ripley, advanced to the support of the troops engaged, and at a late hour united with Pender's brigade, of A. P. Hill's division, in an effort to turn the enemy's left; but the troops were unable in the growing darkness to overcome the obstructions, and after sustaining a destructive fire of musketry and artillery at short range were withdrawn. The fire was continued until about 9 p.m., when the engagement ceased. Our troops retained the ground on the right bank, from which the enemy had been driven.
Ripley was relieved at 3 a.m. on the 27th by two of Longstreet's brigades, which were subsequently re-enforced. In expectation of Jackson's arrival on the enemy's right the battle was renewed at dawn, and continued with ammunition for about two hours forced their way to its banks, where their progress was arrested by the nature of the stream. They maintained their position while preparations were being made to cross at another point nearer the Chickahominy. Before they were completed Jackson crossed Beaver Dam, above and the enemy abandoned his intrenchments and retired rapidly down the river, destroying a great deal of property, but leaving much in his deserted camps.
BATTLE OF THE CHICKAHOMINY.*
After repairing the bridges over Beaver Dam the several columns resumed their march as nearly as possible as prescribed in the order; Jackson, with whom D. H. Hill had united, bore to the left, in order to cut off re-enforcements to the enemy or intercept his retreat in that direction. Longstreet and A. P. Hill moved nearer the Chickahominy. Many prisoners were taken in their progress, and the conflagration of wagons and stores marked the way of the retreating army. Longstreet
*Or Gaines' Mill.