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applications to the Government for more troops, more cannon, more transportation--all which were sent forward to him as rapidly as possible, being taken mainly from McDowell's corps. On the 14th of April, General Franklin, detached from that corps, reported to General McClellan, near Yorktown, but his troops remained on board the transports. A month was spent in this way, the President urging action in the most earnest manner, and the commanding general delaying from day to day his reiterated promises to commence operations immediately. At last, on the morning of the 4th of May, it was discovered that the rebels had been busy for a day or two in evacuating Yorktown, and that the last of their columns had left that place, all their supply-trains having been previously removed on the day and night preceding. General McClellan, in announcing this event to the Government, added that “no time would be lost” in the pursuit, and that he should "push the enemy to the wall.” General Stoneman, with a column of cavalry, was at once sent forward to overtake the retreating enemy, which he succeeded in doing on the same day, and was repulsed. On the 5th, the forces ordered forward by General McClellan came up, and found a very strong rear-guard of the rebels strongly fortified, about two miles east of Williamsburg, and prepared to dispute the advance of the pursuing troops. It had been known from the beginning that a very formidable line of forts had been erected here, and it ought to have been equally well known by the commanding general that the retreating enemy would avail
under arms, but, to my utter surprise, he permitted day after day to elapse without an assault.
In a few days the object of his delay was apparent. In every direction in front of our lines, through the intervening woods and along the open fields, earthworks began to appear. Through the energetic action of the government re-enforcements began to rour in, and each hour the army of the Icninsulu grew stronger und stronger, until anxiety passed from my mind as to the result of an attack upon us.
J. BANKUEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General.
himself of them to delay the pursuit. General McClellan, however, bad evidently anticipated no resistance. He remained at his head-quarters, two miles in the rear of Yorktown, until summoned by special messenger in the afternoon of the 5th, who announced to him that our troops had encountered the enemy strongly posted, that a bloody battle was in progress, and that his presence on the field was imperatively required. Replying to the messenger that he had supposed our troops in front “could attend to that little matter," General McClellan left his head-quarters at about half-past two, P. M., and reached the field at five. General Hooker, General Heintzelman, and General Sumner, had been fighting under enormous difficulties, and with heavy losses, during all the early part of the day; and just as the commanding general arrived, General Kearney had re-enforced General Hooker, and General Isancock had executed a brilliant flank movement, which turned the fortunes of the day, and left our forces in possession of the
General McClellan does not seem to have understood that this affair was simply an attempt of the rebel rear-guard to cover the retreat of the main force, and that when it had delayed the pursuit it had accomplished its whole purpose. He countermanded an order for the advance of two divisions, and ordered them back to Yorktown; and in a dispatch sent to the War Department the same night, he treats the battle as an engagement with the whole rebel
army. “I find," he says,
“General Joe Johnson in front of me in strong force, probably greater, a good deal, than my own.”
He again complains of the inferiority of his command, says he will do all he can “with the force at his disposal," and that he should “run the risk of at least holding them in check here (at Williamsburg) while he resumed the original plan"-which was to send Franklin to West Point by water. But the direct pursuit of the retreating rebel army was abandoned—owing, as the
general said, to the bad state of the roads, which rendered it impracticable. Some five days were spent at Williamsburg, which enabled the rebels, notwithstanding the “ state of the roads,” to withdraw their whole force across the Chickaliominy, and establish themselves within the fortifications in front of Richmond. On the morning of the 7th, General Franklin landed at West Point, but too late to intercept the main body of the retreating army: he was met by a strong rear-guard, with whom he had a sharp but fruitless engagement.
The York River had been selected as the base of operations, in preference to the James, because it “was in a better position to effect a junction with any troops that might move from Washington on the Fredericksburg line;"* and arrangements were made to procure supplies for the army by that route. On the 9th, Norfolk was evacuated by the rebels, all the troops withdrawing in safety to Richmond; and the city, on the next day, was occupied by General Wool. On the 11th, the formidable steamer Merrimac, which had held our whole naval force at Fortress Monroe completely in check, was blown up by the rebels themselves, and our vessels attempted to reopen the navigation of the James River, but were repulsed by a heavy battery at Drury's bluff, eight miles below Richmond. After waiting for several days for the roads to improve, the main body of the army was put in motion on the road towards Richmond, which was about forty miles from Williamsburg; and, on the 16th, headquarters were established at White House, at the point where the Richmond railroad crosses the Pamunkey, an affluent of the York River-the main body of the army lying along the south bank of the Chickahominy, a swampy stream, behind which the rebel army had intrenched itself for the defence of Richmond.
* See General McClellan's testimony-Report of Committee on Conduct of the War, Vol. i., p. 431.
General McClellan began again to prepare for fighting the “decisive battle” which he had been predicting ever since the rebels withdrew from Manassas, but which they had so far succeeded in avoiding. A good deal of his attention, however, was devoted to making out a case of neglect against the Government. On the 10th of May, when he had advanced but three niles beyond Williamsburg, he sent a long dispatch to the War Departinent, reiterating his conviction that the rebels were about to dispute his advance with their whole force, and asking for “every man" the Government could send him. If not re-enforced he said he should probably be “ obliged to fight nearly double his numbers strongly intrenched.” Ten days previously the official returns showed that he had 160,000 men under his command. On the 14th, he telegraphed the President, reiterating his fears that he was to be met by overwhelming numbers, saying that he could not bring more than 80,000 inen into the field, and again asking for “every man” that the War Department could send him. Even if more troops should not be needed for military purposes, he thought a great display of imposing force in the capital of the rebel government wonld have the best moral effect. To these repeated demands the President, through the Secretary of War, on the 18th of May, made the following reply:
WASHINGTON, May 18-2 P. M. GENERAL: Your dispatch to the President, asking re-enforcements, has been received and carefully considered.
The President is not willing to uncover the capital entirely; and it is believed that even if this were prudent, it would require more time to effect a junction between your army and that of the Rappahannock by the way of the Potomac and York River, than by a land march. In order, therefore, to increase the strength of the attack upon Richmond at the earliest moment, General McDowell has been ordered to march upon that city by the shortest route. He is ordered, keeping himself always in position to save the capital from all possible attack, so to operate as to put lui3 left wing in communication with your right wing, and you are in
structed to co-operate so as to establish this communication as soon as possible by extending your right wing to the north of Richmond.
It is believed that this communication can be safely established either north or south of the Pamunkey River.
In any event, you will be able to prevent the main body of the enemy's forces from leaving Richmond, and falling in ovorwhelming force upon Geueral McDowell. He will move with botween thirty-fivo and forty thousand men.
A copy of the instructions to General McDowell are with this. The specific task assigned to his command has been to provido against any danger to the capital of the nation.
At your earnest call for re-enforcements, he is sent forward to cooperate in the reduction of Richmond, but charged, in attempting this, not to uncover the city of Washington, and you will give no order, either before or after your junction, which can put him out of position to cover this city. You and he will communicate with each other by telegraph or otherwise, as frequently as may be necessary for sufficient co-operation. When General McDowell is in position on your right, his supplies must be drawn from West Point, and you will instruct your staff officers to be prepared to supply him by that route.
The President desires that General McDowell retain the command of the department of the Rappahannock, and of the forces with which he moves forward. By order of the President.
EDWIN M. STANTON.
In reply to this, on the 21st of May, General McClellan repeated his declarations of the overwhelming force of the rebels, and urged that General McDowell should join him by water instead of by land, going down the Rappahannock and the Bay to Fortress Monroe, and then ascending the York and Pamunkey Rivers. He feared there was "little hope that he could join himn overland in time for the coming battle. Delays," he says, ,
on my part will be dangerous : I fear sickness and demoralization. This region is unhealthy for Northern men, and unless kept moving, I fear that our soldiers may become discouraged”-a fear that was partially justified by the experience of the whole month succeeding, during which he kept them idle. He complained also that McDowell was not put more