Meade's brigade, of McCall's division, of which these brigades formed a part-was held in reserve with Morell's and Sykes' divisions on Gaines' Farm. The position is naturally a strong one. To increase its defensibility earthworks were erected, under the supervision of General Reynolds, and masked from the view of the enemy.
On Thursday, June 26, the enemy commenced crossing the bridges already named. In accordance with directions previously given the outposts, observing the access to the crossings, fell back after slight resistance to the already selected line of battle on the eastern crest of Meadow Creek, destroying the bridges as they retired. Meade's brigade was immediately advanced to the support of Reynolds, together with Martindale's and Griffin's brigades, of Morell's division. General McCall at an early hour joined his command in front. The road parallel to the Chickahominy intersected the line of troops above described near its left. The road from Mechanicsville turns just before reaching Meadow Creek Valley and runs nearly parallel to it, thus presenting the flank of an approaching enemy to the fire of troops disputing the passage. Down this road and into the ravine came the enemy's column in good order and great force. Our troops were concealed by earthworks flanking this road on the lower side of the ravine. The men coolly reserved their fire until the knead of the enemy's column was nearly across, then opened a terribly destructive volley in the face and flank of the advancing force. The survivors turned and fled in consternation, and no second attempt was made in force to cross the road.
The enemy then deployed and took position on the opposite side of the ravine, placing artillery in such positions as they could select, and from that time until after dark employed their time mainly in persistent efforts to drive us from our position by mere fire of musketry and artillery-efforts which I cannot but think were attended with double the loss to them that we suffered.
The firing ceased about 9 p. m. and men lay on their arms in ranks as they had stood during the day, while exertions were being made by their officers to refill their exhausted cartridge boxes and to bring food to such men as had none in their haversacks, and by the medical department to care for and remove to the rear the wounded, happily not very numerous on our side. All was made ready for a renewal of the contest on the old ground, or an advance toward Richmond via the bridges which the enemy had crossed, should our success warrant it. During the night, however, as the commanding general (who had joined me at an early hour in the afternoon and remained until about 10 o'clock at night) is aware, numerous and unvarying accounts came in from our outposts and scouts toward the Pamunkey which tended to corroborate the previously received intelligence of the advance of the whole of Jackson's force from the direction of Gordonsville, whereby our right was to be effectually flanked without at all weakening the force in the immediate front of the army.
It was thus rendered necessary to select which side of the Chickahominy should be held in force, there being on each side an army of our enemies equivalent (in connection with their breastworks) to the whole of our own, and these two armies and defenses well connected with each other, and with Richmond, their base. But for the conception of the idea of a flank movement, changing our base by the left flank to the James River, our position would have left but one alternative-a hasty abandonment of our attack on Richmond and a retirement by the way we had advanced. The former plan, however, now so happily accomplished, which was made safe by its very boldness, necessi-