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FRIGHT OF THE CITIZENS. 107
third and Seventy-seventh gallantly charged down upon the place, driving everything before them.
Large numbers of knapsacks and blankets which the rebels had thrown away in their flight were picked up in the streets. They were most of them marked "Home (Ga.) Light Guards." Guns, equipments, blankets, and other materials of war, were likewise found in large quantities. Nearly all the houses were more or less pockmarked with shot and shell. The Mayor's residence, an elegant mansion, had been struck seventeen different times. Those of the inhabitants who had not fled, were found packed away like sardines, in cellars and other places of refuge. They were very much frightened, and not until repeatedly assured that we would not harm them, could they be prevailed upon to come out.
After taking possession of the village, a line of skirmishers was thrown out half a mile on the Richmond road. Detachments of the Thirty-third, Seventh Maine, and five companies of cavalry were left in charge of the town. They were relieved upon the following day, and rejoined their regiments on the Beaver Dam, to which the Brigade had returned after the engagement. Some members of Company E discovered a grist mill here, and spent most of the night in grinding corn, and making hoecake.
Gen. Stoneman had in the meantime proceeded several miles to the right, and accomplished the object of the expedition by destroying the Richmond
108 PROXIMITY TO RICHMOND.
and Fredericksburg railroad bridge over the Chickahominy.
With one exception this was the nearest point attained to Kichmond during the entire Peninsular campaign. Gen. Hooker, after the battle of Fair Oaks, followed the fleeing enemy to within less than four miles of their capital.
That it could then have been taken had General Davidson's brigade been reinforced and permitted to proceed, is a truth which admits of no denial. There were no rebel forces between Mechanicsville and the city, with the exception of those driven from the former place, they being concentrated on the left of our lines. There were no fortifications of any extent on that side of the capital, as the attack was expected to be made from the other direction. The approaches were all left open, and the appearance of this single brigade of "Yankees" struck terror to the rebels, who inferred that all was lost.
PATRICK HENRY'S BIRTH PLACE. 109
"Gaines' Farm."—Liberty Hall.—Battle of Seven Pines.—Fair Oaks.—Rapid rise of the Chickahominy.—The Gaines Estate. —An aged Negro.—Golden's Farm.—Camp Lincoln.—Letter from an Officer.
Davidson's brigade again moved from Beaver Dam Creek, on the 26th of May, down the left bank of the Chickahominy (the enemy throwing a few shells at them as they marched), and encamped on "Gaines' Farm," where they remained until the 5th of June, performing picket duty and building corduroy roads. Not far from here was "Liberty Hall," where Patrick Henry was born, May 29, 1736. The building, which his father had used as a grammar school, was now appropriated for a National Hospital, and the little farm on which Patrick had commenced life in company with his young wife, the daughter of a neighboring farmer, occupied by our troops.
General Keyes' corps, followed by that of General Heintzelman, had now crossed the Chickahominy, the remainder of the army still resting on the left bank. General Casey's division held the extreme
BATTLE OF SEVEN PINES.
advance; his pickets being within five miles of Richmond. Relying upon the sudden and rapid rise of the river preventing our crossing over more troops, Gren'l Johnston, then commander of the rebel forces,
Liberty Hall, Birth-place of Patrick Henry.
hurled his whole army upon these two corps on the morning of the 31st, with the expectation of annihilating them. Casey's Division, which bore the brunt of the attack, was forced back from their rifle-pits and second line of battle, after fighting for several hours and losing 1,443 men.
The courageous Sumner, who, notwithstanding the freshet, had crossed his corps, now drove fiercely at the enemy, and saved the left wing from destruction. Yet the whole force was obliged to fall back nearly two miles, owing to the overwhelming numbers and impetuous onslaught of the rebels. Here they maintained their ground, refusing to yield an inch