off, he fell back upon the White House and thence to Yorktown, when the White House was evacuated.
On the 26th orders were sent to all the corps commanders on the right bank of the Chickahominy to be prepared to send as many troops as they could spare on the following day to the left bank of the river, as will be seen from the appended telegrams. General Franklin received instructions to hold General Slocum's division in readiness by daybreak of the 27th, and if heavy firing should at that time be heard in the direction of General Porter, to move it at once to his assistance without further orders.
At noon on the 26th the approach of the enemy, who had crossed above Meadow Bridge, was discovered by the advanced pickets at that point, and at 12.30 p. m. they were attacked and driven in. All the pickets were now called in, and the regiment and battery at Mechanicsville withdrawn.
Meade's brigade was ordered up as a reserve in rear of the line, and shortly after Martindale's and Griffin's brigades of Morell's division were moved forward and deployed on the right of McCall's division, toward Shady Grove Church, to cover that flank. Neither of these three brigades, however, were warmly engaged, though two of Griffin's regiments relieved a portion of Reynolds' line just at the close of the action.
The position of our troops was a strong one, extending along the left bank of Beaver Dam Creek, the left resting on the Chickahominy and the right in thick woods beyond the upper road from Mechanicsville to Cold Harbor. The lower or river road crossed the creek at Ellison's Mill. Seymour's brigade held the left of the line from the Chickahominy to beyond the mill, partly in woods and partly in clear ground, and Reynolds' the right, principally in the woods and covering the upper road. The artillery occupied positions commanding the roads and the open ground across the creek.
Timber had been felled, rifle-pits dug, and the position generally prepared with a care that greatly contributed to the success of the day. The passage of the creek was difficult along the whole front, and impracticable for artillery, except by the two roads where the main efforts of the enemy were directed.
At 3 p. m. he formed his line of battle, rapidly advanced his skirmishers, and soon attacked our whole line, making at the same time a determined attempt to force the passage of the upper road, which was successfully resisted by General Reynolds. After a severe struggle he was forced to retire with very heavy loss.
A rapid artillery fire, with desultory skirmishing, was maintained along the whole front, while the enemy massed his troops for another effort at the lower road about two hours later, which was likewise repulsed by General Seymour with heavy slaughter.
The firing ceased, and the enemy retired about 9 p. m., the action having lasted six hours, with entire success to our arms. But few, if any, of Jackson's troops were engaged on this day. The portion of the enemy encountered were chiefly from the troops on the right bank of the river, who crossed near Meadow Bridge and at Mechanicsville.
The information in my possession soon after the close of this action convinced me that Jackson was really approaching in large force. The position on Beaver Dam Creek, although so successfully defended, had its right flank too much in the air, and was too far from the main army to make it available to retain it longer. I therefore determined to send the heavy guns at Hogan's and Gaines' houses over the Chickahominy