to each gun (Johnson's battery accompanied Branch), in all about 14,000 men. The brigades and batteries were entirely concealed from the view of the enemy.
My orders were that General Jackson, moving down from Ashland, would inform General Branch of his near approach. As soon as Jackson crossed the Central Railroad Branch was to cross the Chickahominy, and, taking the river road, push on and clear the Meadow Bridge. This done, I was to cross at Meadow Bridge, and, sweeping down to Mechanicsville, open the way for General Longstreet. It was expected that General Jackson would be in the position assigned him by early dawn, and all my preparations were made with the view of moving early. General Branch, however, did not receive intelligence from General Jackson until about 10 o'clock, when he immediately crossed and proceeded to carry out his instructions. He was delayed by the enemy's skirmishers and advanced but slowly.
Three o'clock having arrived, and no intelligence from Jackson or Branch, I determined to cross at once rather than hazard the failure of the whole plan by longer deferring it. General Field, already selected for the advance, being in readiness, seized the bridge,and the Fortieth Virginia, Colonel Brockenbrough, leading his brigade passed over, meeting but slight opposition, the enemy falling back to Mechanicsville. The division being safely over, Anderson and Archer followed Field; Gregg and Pender turned short to the right, and moved through the fields to co-operate on the right of the first column.
Beaver Dam Creek curves around Mechanicsville, the high banks being on the north side and in possession of the enemy. This naturally strong line of defense had been made very much stronger by rifle pits and earthen epaulements for guns.
The enemy opened a concentric fire of artillery on the head of Field's column, who, throwing his brigade into line of battle, with Pegram in the center, steadily advancing, drove the enemy from Mechanicsville.
Anderson was ordered to make a flank movement to the left, and take in reserve a battery which was spiteful in its activity, while McIntosh was sent forward to attract its attention and keep it employed. Archer was moved up to the support of Field, and formed line on his (Field's) left, with his own left resting on the turnpike. Braxton was sent in to the assistance of McIntosh. Gregg and Pender approached the village in line of battle over the hills and open fields from the direction of the river. Field had driven the enemy from the village and its surroundings across Beaver Dam Creek to his stronghold. Archer swept along to his left,and with the same result. Pender was ordered to support these brigades already engaged,and to take position on the right of Field. This was gallantly done in the face of a murderous fire. Andrews galloped up to the assistance of Pegram.
The battle now raged furiously along my whole line. The artillery fire from the enemy was terrific. Their position along Beaver Dam Creek was too strong to be carried by a direct attack without heavy loss, and expecting every moment to hear Jackson's guns on my left and in rear of the enemy, I forbore to order the storming of their lines. General Branch, having come up, was ordered forward as a support to the brigades already engaged, and Johnson's battery took position near McIntosh and Braxton. Gregg was held in reserve near Mechanicsville. The Thirty-eighth North Carolina, Colonel [William J.] Hoke, and the Thirty-fourth North Carolina, Colonel [Richmond H.] Riddick, of Pender's brigade made a gallant but abortive attempt to force a crossing.
Meeting General Ripley, who had just crossed his brigade at the