War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0117 Chapter XXIII. GENERAL REPORTS.

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too, on the 27th. It was understood by me to be the intention of the commanding general to concentrate our own forces either on one side or other of the Chickahominy, and, so far as I could inter from a conversation in which no positive decision was announced on his part, the plan to which preference was given was, after the enemy's plans should be sufficiently developed, to withdraw from the left bank of the Chickahominy, concentrate on the right bank, and attack Richmond while the enemy was massed on the other side. Indeed, the work thrown up on the night of the 26th was understood to be a preparation for an attack to be made on the morning of the 27th.

On the afternoon of the 26th I was told by the commanding general that in case of withdrawing from the other side (left bank) he would still be glad to maintain his hold on that side, in order to be able to recross should events make it necessary or desirable. I said to him that I thought with any small force it was impracticable to hold the debouches of all our bridges, or even those from Duane's down to Sunner's upper bridge, but that possibly the heads of the two important bridges, Alexander's and Woodbury's, and Sunner's upper bridge (which were within a few hundred yards of each other), might be held. He desired me to go that afternoon and reconnoiter the ground for a position for that purpose. This was probably about 4 p. m.

I left the headquarters camp (then rear of Dr. Trent's) as soon as I could get my horses, and proceeded on this reconnaissance. I had passed the Chickahominy, when I was overtaken by an aide-de-camp (Lieutenant Custer), who informed me that the commanding general desired to modify his instructions; that he wished me to reconnoiter a position extending from near Dr. Gaines' to Barker's Mill Pond. He (Lieutenant Custer) asked for mu map, and sketched with a pencil a line extending between those limits. How or by what forces it was intended to occupy that position I was not informed. I took the road by McGee's house to New Harbor Cold and to Dr. Gaines', thence back on to the spur on the right of Dr. Gaines'; thence through the woods New Cold Harbor again, thence to Old Cold Harbor; thence by the road to Dispatch Station to near where I started; thence by the same road to near Barker's saw-mill.

It was late when I commenced, and I had been obliged to ride fast. When I reached Barker's Mill it was getting dark, and I proceeded from there back to camp. I thought that a position moderately favorable for a large force to light a battle in equal or not greatly-inferior numbers might be taken a long this line, but not one which gave any very decided advantages. According to the force in which it was occupied, its left would rest on the first spur to the right (east) of Dr. Gaines' house, embracing the woods, or, contracting the front, rest on the spur where Watts' house is, partially embracing the woods in front, and running in front of McGee's house. The right would extend past McGee's house along the Dispatch Station road through the woods to the eminence near where a house is marked on the map, or, perhaps still better, keep along the edge of the woods toward the Chickahominy. When I returned to headquarters camp after dark I found that the commanding general had left for General Porter's camp, having been summoned either by General Porter himself or by the sound of the attack made late that afternoon. At 10 p. m. I received a telegram directing me to repair at once to General Porte's headquarters. I reached there about midnight, and found the commanding general and General Porter together in bivouac (all camp equipage, wagons, &c., having been sent to the other side.) After explaining on the map to the commanding