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CHAPTER XXXVIII.

JUNE, 1862

NO CLELLAN BEFORE RICHMOND-LABOR OF THE SOLDIERS-MC CLELLAN'S AD

DRESS TO THE ARMY-MCDOWELL EXPECTED-REBEL KNOWLEDGE OF HIS PLANS~-MC CALL'S DIVISION SENT TO HIS SUPPORT-THE FORCE LEFT VITII WHICH TO ATTACK RICHMOND-ANXIETY OF MC CLELLAN-INSUFFICIENCY OF HIS FORCE TO PROTECT HIS RIGHT FLANK-STUART'S CAVALRY RAID

ENCIRCLES OUR ENTIRE

ARMY--ATTACKS A RAIL ROAD TRAIN-ATTEMPTS

TO CROSS THE CHICKAHOMINY-THE COLUMN SAVED BY A LUCKY ACCIDENT

-ITS SAFE RETURN TO RICHMOND-ITS EFFECT ON THE REBEL ARMY-BAL

LOON ASCENSION IN VIEW OF THE REBEL CAPITAL MOVEMENTS AND RUMORS-REBEL PLAN TO DESTROY MC CLELLAN'S ARMY.

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THE Battle of Fair Oaks which commenced on the last

day of May and ended on the first day of this month, though it retarded McClellan's advance towards Richmond, did not in the least manner change his plans. The unexpected disastrous flood caused more delay than the battle. Not only were the bridges, constructed with so much labor by the troops, to be rebuilt, but the timbers had to be drag. ged through deep mud and water, while the ground, swampy before, now became a bed of mortar. The men suffered dreadfully from the deluge, not only on account of the terrible state to which it reduced their camps, but because being fol. lowed by hot weather, the air was filled with malaria. The fatigues and annoyances, they were called upon to endure for the next two weeks, were harder to bear than the dangers and carnage of the battle field. McClellan, however, was not discouraged, for if the help promised him should come at the last 'hour, he felt certain that his gallant army would carry the flag triumphantly into the rebel Capital. To keep up

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their spirits amid the disheartening circumstances that surrounded them, he issued the following address:

HEAD-QUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Camp near New Bridge, Va., June 2, 1862. SOLDIERS OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC: I have fulfilled at least a part of my promise to you. You are now face to face with the rebels, who are held at bay in front of the Capital. The final and decisive battle is at hand. Unless you belie your past history, the result cannot be for a moment doubtful. If the troops who labored so faithfully, and fought so gallantly at Yorktown, and who so bravely won the hard fights at Williamsburgh, West Point, Hanover Court House and Fair Oaks, now prove worthy of their antecedents, the victory is surely ours.

The events of every day prove your superiority. Whereever you have met the enemy you have beaten him. Whereever you have used the bayonet, he has given way in' panic and disorder.

I ask of you now one last crowning effort. The enemy has staked his all on the issue of the coming battle. Let us meet him and crush him here, in the very center of the rebellion.

Soldiers, I will be with you in this battle, and share its dangers with you.

Our confidence in each other is now founded upon the past. Let us strike the blow which is to restore peace and union to this distracted land. Upon your valor, discipline and mutual confidence the result depends. (Signed)

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General Commanding. In holding out this bright future he intended no deception, for he still believed that he was to have the co-operation of the other portion of the army, and nothing had yet occurred to weaken his confidence in ultimate success. Burnside, below, was anxiously waiting for the great decisive battle, when : he would move upon the shattered forces in rear, and help to give the death blow to the rebellion. No one in the army before Richmond yet believed that the great scheme, of which their march from Yorktowe was only a part, was to be aban

REBEL VIEW OF OUR PLAN.

485

doned, and the war all begun over again. This belief was strengthened by a rumor that passed through the camps,

that McDowell had started, and his strong columns were pushing their way towards Hanover Court House.

The rebel leaders, from the outset of the war, had obtained early 'information of every important plan of our government, and thus been able often to defcat it. From some source or other they acquired a knowledge of the plan of this great campaign, though too late to break it up, had the government acted with promptness and daring. What our people only guessed at, and afterwards, in their indignation that Richmond was not captured, entirely forgot, the rebels well understood, and were candid enough to say ought to have proved successful. Thus the Richmond Whig of June fourteenth, after speaking of the defeat of Banks, and failure of Fremont to cut off Jackson, says: “These several corps were to have been consolidated and brought across the Blue Ridge en route for Richmond. When they reached the Rappahannock, McDowell, with his Fredericksburg army, was to fall into line and the united columns were to be precipitated on the devoted city from the north. At the same time, Burnside was expected to be on hand from the south, advancing up the south side of the James, from the direction of Suffolk, in conjunction with the Monitor and its consorts in the river. The Capital, being thus assailed from the north and south, McClellan was to make the grand attack from the east, in front. The plan was a gigantic one, and in all probability would have succeeded, but for the masterly movements of Jackson, completely paralyzing the valley force and compelling McDowell to detach a large portion of his army to save Banks and Company from demolition, and their Capital from capture. Thus left without co-operation and succor, McClellan is afraid to strike. Within sound almost of the church bells of Richmond, within sight almost of the long coveted treas.

486

A REBEL CONFESSION.

ure, a sudden disappointment strikes him, a coid tremor seizes him, and he skulks and hides himself like a craven in the dismal marshes of the Chickahominy-one day sending to Washington a braggart and 'mendacious bulletin of what his invincible army had done and is about to do, and the next bawling with all his might for reinforcements. For the pres: ent, at least, he is cornered by the bold dash of Jacksonthe next move should be a checkmate."

Here is an important confession, one that concedes that the plan, which after mature reflection had received the sanction of our government, would have been successful except for the sudden dash of Jackson. But it is easy to see that this raid would never have been attempted, had McDowell moved at the time and in the way originally contemplated. As far as human foresight can see, Richmond would have fallen long before this, for the concentration of forces, which the rebels acknowledged ought to have given us success, would have been accomplished. Who is to blame for this?

The correspondence, that passed between McClellan and the government at this critical period, when it is allowed to see the light, will form an interesting chapter in our history. The latter, alarmed for the safety of Washington, began to vacillate and could no longer reiterate with the same emphasis its promise of co-operation; and the former, without it, could see, not only no way to victory, but scarcely one of escape. The grand imposing structure, on which such vast expense and time had been lavished, and which both believed to be firm and complete, they now saw suddenly to assume the appearance of a cloudy fabric to vanish at the next breatlı into thin air. How the government at Washington felt we know not, but we are told by eye witnesses that the countenance of McClellan grew inexpressibly sad, when alone. Tlis heart might well be overwhelmed, for the vision of a niglity wreck began to loom up in the distance.

WAITING FOR MCDOWELL.

487

Still, to his army he seemed confident as ever, and steadily pressed his works on towards the gates of the rebel Capital. Skirmishes were of almost daily occurrence, and the eager, expectant army awaited, without misgivings, the order to advance. The hot weather of summer was telling fearfully on the troops in those pestiferous swamps, thinning the ranks as fast as though swept by the enemy's batteries, Yet their spirits remained unbroken, for ever and anon came the rumor that McDowell had started. Four times was the army raised to the highest pitch of excitement by this news, only to sink back into disappointment and angry mutterings.

Meanwhile, the government, pressed by McClellan for reinforcements, sent down to him McCall's division of eleven thousand men. His army previous to this, had from sickness, loss on the battle field, and furloughs most of which were obtained through political or personal influence at Washington, dwindled down to less than one hundred thousand

McCall's additional force made it a little over a hundred thousand, twenty thousand of which were necessary to guard his communications with the White House, leaving him only about eighty-five thousand with which to advance on Richmond, defended, as McClellan knew, by over a hundred and fifty thousand men, protected by works of the most formidable character.

In ten days after the battle at Fair Oaks, he had all his bridges completed, and was ready soon after with his left wing to move on Richmond, the moment the corps of McDowell closed

up

his right wing. Affairs were resting in this condition, when on Thursday, the twelfth, a cavalry expedition was started from Richmond, with the design of dashing on our rear, to capture and destroy what it could, and ascertain the number and position of our troops between the main army and the White House, on the Pamunkey river.

men.

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