division (Pennsylvania Reserves), were moved from Gaines' farm to a position on Beaver Dam Creek, General Meade's brigade being held in reserve in front of Gaines' farm. One regiment and a battery were thrown forward to the heights overlooking Mechanicsville, and a line of pickets extended along the Chickahominy River between the Mechanicsville and Meadow Bridges. As has been already stated, I received while engaged on the 25th in directing the operations of Heintzelman's corps, information which strengthened my suspicious that Jackson was advancing with a large force upon our right and rear. On this day General Casey, at the White House, was instructed to prepare for a vigorous resistance, and defensive works were ordered at Tunstall's Station. Early on the 25th General Porter was instructed to send out reconnoitering parties toward Hanover Court-House to discover the position and force of the enemy, and to destroy the bridges on the Totopotomoy as far as possible.
Up to the 26th of June the operations against Richmond had been conducted along the roads leading to it from the east and northeast. The reasons (the President's anxiety about covering Washington from Fredericksburg, McDowell's promised co-operation, partial advance, and immediate withdrawal) which compelled the choice of this line of approach and our continuance upon it have been alluded to above.
The superiority of the James River route as a line of attack and supply is too obvious to need exposition. My own opinion on that subject had been early given, and need not to be repeated here. The dissipation of all hope of the co-operation by land of General McDowell's forces, deemed to be occupied in the defense of Washington, their inability to hold or defeat Jackson, disclosed an opportunity to the enemy, and a new danger to my right and to the long line of supplies from the White House to the Chickahominy, and forced an immediate change of base across the Peninsula. To that end from the evening of the 26th every energy of the army was bent. Such a change of base in the presence of a powerful enemy is one of the most difficult undertakings in war. I was confident of the valor and discipline of my brave army, and knew that it could be trusted equally to retreat or advance and to fight the series of battles now inevitable whether retreating from victories or marching through defeats; and, in short, I had no doubt whatever of its ability, even against superior numbers, to fight its way through to the James River, and get a position whence a successful advance upon Richmond would be again possible. Their superb conduct through the next seven days justified my faith.
On the same day General Van Vliet, chief quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac, by my orders telegraphed to Colonel Ingalls, quartermaster at the White House, as follows:
Run the cars to the last moment, and load them with provisions and ammunition. Load every wagon you have with subsistence, and send them to Savage Station by way of Bottom's Bridge. If you are obliged to abandon White House burn everything that you cannot get off. You must throw all our supplies up the James River as soon as possible, and accompany them yourself with all your force. It will be of vast importance to establish our depots on James River without delay if we abandon White House. I will keep you advised of every movement so long as the wires work; after that you must exercise your own judgment.
All these commands were obeyed. So excellent were the dispositions of the different officers in command of the troops, depots, and gunboats, and so timely the warning of the approach of the enemy, that almost everything was saved, and but a small amount of stores destroyed, to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy.
General Stoneman's communications with the main army being cut