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ent for duty. To this was added the force of Gen. Wool, now put under Gen. McClellan's command, numbering 14,007 in the aggregate, 11,514 being "effective." Total, 141,173, with 109,522 present for duty. Gen. Sigel was also ordered to report, with his command, to Gen. McCleilan; but the order was subsequently countermanded, and this force sent to Harper's Ferry. McCall's division was ordered to him on the 6th of June, and he received many other regiments from time to time.
An order of the War Department, June 1, extended the Department of Virginia to include that part of the State south of the Rappahannock and east of the railroad from Fredericksburg to Richmond, Petersburg, and Weldon, under command of Maj.-Gen. McClellan. Gen. Wool was assigned to the command of the Middle Department, succeeding Gen. Butler, with directions to report to Gen. McClellan for orders.
Despite the diversion of a portion of his force for operations in the Valley, the Rebel General in command at Richmond now boldly assumed the aggressive against McClellan.
Taking advantage of a sudden rise of the Chickahominy, before the entire completion of the bridges, Johnston attacked our left in heavy force near Seven Pines and Fair Oaks, on the 31st of May, having skillfully made his combinations with a view to cut off the corps of Heintzelman and Keyes. The attack commenced about 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Casey's division, in the advance, was driven backward, after stoutly contesting the field for hours, while Heintzelman's two divisions were brought up in support. The enemy, attempting to force his way between these troops and Bottom's Bridge, was kept in check until about 6 o'clock. Gen. Sumner came up at that hour with Sedgwick's division, followed by Richardson's, having crossed on the imperfect bridge which they had constructed, and appeared suddenly on the left flank of Johnston's force, opening a destructive fire with his batteries, which stopped the enemy's advance. Then, by a gallant bayonet charge, led by Sumner in person, the Rebels were driven back with great slaughter, beyond Fair Oaks Station. What had been
almost a crushing defeat, would have been turned into a brilliant victory, had our remaining troops been brought into action, and might probably have given us possession of Richmond.
This great opportunity escaped the Commanding General. As Prince de Joinville, his friend and volunteer aid during this campaign, informs us: "It was not until 7 o'clock in the evening that the idea of securing all the bridges without delay, and causing the whole army to cross at daybreak to the right bank of the Chickahominy, was entertained. It was now too late. Four hours had been lost, and the opportunity — that moment so fleeting, in war as in other circumstances had gone."
The river rose rapidly during the night, sweeping away all the bridges. The enemy renewed the attack in the morning, knowing that our left and center were now completely isolated from the remainder of their comrades, the corps of Porter and Franklin. The troops of Sumner, Heintzelman and Keyes fought with desperate courage, sustaining themselves against the concentrated strength of the enemy, until nearly noon, when the latter retired, leaving his dead unburied, and many of his wounded on the field. Both sides had suffered severely in the battles of Saturday and Sunday. The Government loss is stated as about 5,000 and the Rebel loss about 8,000.
The situation of the Army of the Potomac was now full of interest-its opportunities clearly to be seen. The whole force which could be sent against it from Richmond had been beaten by one-half of this army. Jackson, with a force estimated at 25,000, was now fighting with Banks, and Fremont and McDowell were endeavoring to close in about him. In relation to reported reënforcements to Johnston, McClellan telegraphed, on the 3d: "I am satisfied that Beauregard is not here." At the same time, he was fully aware that the forces of Beauregard and Bragg had evacuated Corinth on the 30th of May, and were now partly disposable for active service wherever they were most needed. Every day's delay was now an advantage to the enemy. To wait for reënforcements was to wait for his adversary to gather in every scattered regiment, and to hasten
the arrival of Jackson and Beauregard. To pause for pleasant weather and good roads, was to postpone action indefinitely. He was already almost within shelling distance of Richmond. His supplies came with regularity by water to White House. and thence by railroad to his lines. And yet, with almost daily dispatches about rains and bad roads, with continual appeals for more men, which he knew could not be granted to any great extent, and with repeated assurances of what he was just going to do, nearly an entire month wore away, at this critical and most favorable juncture, without result.
On the 3d of June, he says: "The next leap will be the last one." The Government and the country expected it to be taken at once. But on the 5th, comes an argument for more troops. Five new regiments, and McCall's division, from McDowell's command, are promptly granted him. On the 8th, he says: "I shall be in perfect readiness to move forward to take Richmond the moment McCall reaches here, and the ground will admit the passage of artillery." On the same day, McDowell informs him: "For the third time I am ordered to join you, and this time I hope to get through." Having thus the longsought forces of McDowell apparently within his grasp, he improves the occasion to call for more, telegraphing as follows, on the 11th: "I have again information that Beauregard has arrived, and that some of his troops are to follow him." He asks, therefore, that reënforcements may be sent him from Halleck's army. He laments that he is the victim of an "abnormal season," and adds: "I am completely checked by the weather." At the same date (despite the weather) he reports that "McCall's troops have commenced arriving."
On the 12th, he reports: "Another good day. All quiet this morning. I move headquarters to-day across the river." On the 14th: "I hope two days more will make the ground practicable." On the 15th: "Another rain set in about 3 P. M. to-day." On the 18th he thinks reënforcements for Jackson* had gone from Richmond. Mr. Lincoln replies, stating
*The battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic, in which Gen. Fremont failed to arrest the retreat of Stonewall Jackson, had been fought on the 8th and 9th of June.
circumstances by which this opinion is "corroborated," adding: "If this is true, it is as good as a re-enforcement to you of an equal force. I could better dispose of things, if I could know about what day you can attack Richmond." McClellan replies, the same day: "A general engagement may take place any hour. We shall await only a favorable condition of the earth and sky, and the completion of some necessary preliminaries."
On the 19th, the President suggests that the reported re-enforcement of Jackson may be a mere ruse. McClellan replies,
on the 20th: "I have no doubt that Jackson has been re-enforced from here. There is reason to believe that Gen. R. S. Ripley has recently joined Lee's army, with a brigade or divi* sion from Charleston. Troops have arrived recently from Goldsboro. There is not the slightest reason to suppose the enemy intends evacuating Richmond. He is daily increasing his defenses. . . . . I would be glad to have permission to lay before your Excellency, by letter or telegraph, my views as to the present state of military affairs throughout the whole country. In the mean time, I would be pleased to learn the disposition, as to numbers and position, of the troops not under my command, in Virginia and elsewhere.”
To this singular dispatch, the President sent the following reply:
WASHINGTON, June 21, 1862, 6 P. M.
Your dispatch of yesterday, 2 P. M., was received this morning. If it would not divert too much of your time and attention from the army under your immediate command, I would be glad to have your views as to the present state of military affairs throughout the whole country, as you say you would be glad to give them. I would rather it should be by letter than by telegraph, because of the better chance of secrecy. As to the numbers and positions of the troops not under your command, in Virginia and elsewhere, even if I could do it with accuracy, which I can not, I would rather not transmit either by telegraph or letter, because of the chances
*Gen. Robert E. Lee had been assigned to the command of the Rebel forces at Richmond, on the 3d of June, superseding Johnston, who had been wounded at Fair Oaks.
of its reaching the enemy. I would be very glad to talk with you, but you can not leave your camp, and I can not well leave here. A. LINCOLN, President.
Maj.-Gen. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN.
In his final report, Gen. McClellan makes the following statement: "All the information I could obtain, previous to the 24th of June, regarding the movements of Gen. Jackson, led to the belief that he was at Gordonsville, where he was receiving re-enforcements from Richmond via Lynchburg and Staunton; but what his purposes were, did not appear until the date specified," etc. Entertaining this opinion, it may well be asked, in passing, how happened it that he so vehemently urged, again and again, the withdrawal of all troops from before Washington, leaving an entirely inadequate garrison within the city itself, in order to transfer all to the Peninsula ? Such, on the one hand, is his confession; such, on the other, was his demand. That Jackson was prepared for any "purpose" that best suited the occasion that he would have attacked Washington had McDowell's army been withdrawn, as McClellan desired, or that he would have invaded Maryland by way of the Valley, as Lee has since done-can admit of no rational doubt. Both those movements were defeated by the wise forecast of the President, and by his persistence in adhering to the policy so clearly marked out, with the approval of all the leading generals, at the outset of the Peninsular movement. When McClellan admits his inability to discern the intentions of Jackson, more than a month after the latter left Richmond, he at once puts at rest all cavils in regard to the opinions of those who assumed some other purpose possible than that finally developed. But what solution can be given of his own inaction during all this period of Jackson's known absence? And how will he even give a plausible look to his eagerness to withdraw McDowell, and to leave to Jackson an unobstructed route to the National Capital?
But the "purposes" of Jackson, hitherto so uncertain, were discovered on the 24th of June, and thus reported: