Although the result of the battle of Malvern was a complete victory, it was nevertheless necessary to fall back still farther, in order to reach a point where our supplies could be brought to us with certainty. As before stated, in the opinion of Captain Rodgers, commanding the gunboat flotilla, this could only be done below City Point. Concurring in his opinion, I selected Harrison's Bar as the new position of the army. The exhaustion of our supplies of food, forage, and ammunition made it imperative to reach the transports immediately.
The greater portion of the transportation of the army having been started for Harrison's Landing, during the night of the 30th of June and 1st July, the order for the movement of the troops was at once issued upon the final repulse of the enemy at Malvern Hill. The order prescribed a movement by the left and rear, General Keyes' corps to cover the maneuver. It was not carried out in detail as regards the divisions on the left, the roads being somewhat blocked by the rear of our trains. Porter and Couch were not able to move out as early as had been anticipated, and Porter found it necessary to place a rear guard between his command and the enemy. Colonel Averell, of the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, was intrusted with this delicate duty. He had under his command his own regiment and Lieutenant-Colonel Buchanan's brigade of regular infantry and one battery. By a judicious use of the resources at his command he deceived the enemy so as to cover the withdrawal of the left wing without being attacked, remaining himself on the previous day's battle-field until about 7 o'clock of the 2nd of July. Meantime General Keyes, having received his orders, commenced vigorous preparations for covering the movement of the entire army and protecting the trains. It being evident that the immense number of wagons and artillery carriages pertaining to the army could not move with celerity along a single road, General Keyes took advantage of every accident of the ground to open new avenues and to facilitate the movement. He made preparations for obstructing the roads after the army had passed, so as to prevent any rapid pursuit, destroying effectually Turkey Bridge, on the main road, and rendering other roads and approaches temporarily impassable by felling trees across them. He kept the trains well closed up, and directed the march so that the troops could move on each side of the roads, not obstructing the passage, but being in good position to repel an attack from any quarter. His dispositions were so successful that, to use his own words:
I do not think more vehicles or more public property were abandoned on the march from Turkey Bridge than would have been left, in the same state of the roads, if the army had been moving toward the enemy instead of away from him. And when it is understood that the carriages and teams belonging to this army, stretched out in one line, would extend not far from 40 miles, the energy and caution necessary for their safe withdrawal from the presence of an enemy vastly superior in numbers will be appreciated.
The last of the wagons did not reach the site selected at Harrison's Bar until after dark on the 3rd of July, and the rear guard did not move into their camp until everything was secure. The enemy followed up with a small force, and on the 3rd threw a few shells at the rear guard, but were quickly dispersed by our batteries and the fire of the gunboats.
Great credit must be awarded to General Keyes for the skill and energy which characterized his performance of the important and delicate duties intrusted to his charge. High praise is also due to the officers and men of the First Connecticut Artillery, Colonel Tyler, for