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It was this unvarying demand that
brought the impatient remark from Secretary of War Stanton:

"If I gave McClellan a million men, he would swear the rebels had two
millions, and sit down in the mud and refuse to move until he had three

The Confederates fell back to Williamsburg, at the narrowest part of the
peninsula, between the James and York Rivers, and began fortifying their
position. The Union gunboats ascended to Yorktown, where the Federal
depots were established. Longstreet, in command of the Confederate rear,
halted and gave battle with a view of protecting his trains.

The engagement took place on May 5th. The Unionists were repulsed at
first, but regained and held their ground, the night closing without any
decided advantage to either army. Longstreet, however, had held the
Federals in check as long as was necessary, and when he resumed his
retreat McClellan did not attempt to pursue him.

The Confederates continued falling back, with McClellan cautiously
following. The delay secured by the enemy enabled them to send their
baggage and supply trains into Richmond, while the army stripped for the
fray. They abandoned the Yorktown peninsula altogether and evacuated
Norfolk, which was occupied by General Wool. It was this movement which
caused the blowing up of the _Merrimac_, referred to elsewhere.

From this it will be seen that both shores of the James were in
possession of the Union forces. The Confederate army withdrew within the
defenses of Richmond on the 10th of May, and the Federal gunboats, after
steaming up the river to within twelve miles of the city, were compelled
to withdraw before the plunging shots of the batteries, which stood on
the tops of the high bluffs.

Following the line of the Pamunkey, McClellan's advance-guard reached
the Chickahominy on the 21st of May, and could plainly see the spires
and steeples of Richmond, which was thrown into a state of great alarm.
Rain fell most of the time, and the rise of the Chickahominy carried
away the bridges, made the surrounding country a swamp, and badly
divided the Union army.


One of the most effective means employed by the Confederate commander
against the Union advance was by creating a diversion in the Shenandoah
Valley and fear for the safety of Washington. Rather than lose that, our
government would have sacrificed the Army of the Potomac. General
Johnston had sent Stonewall Jackson into the Valley, where Banks was in
command. He was another of the political generals, wholly unfitted for
the responsibilities placed in his hands.

At the opening of hostilities, Banks was so confident that he
telegraphed the government that Jackson was on the eve of being crushed;
but it proved the other way. Banks was completely outgeneraled and sent
flying toward Washington. His troops marched more than thirty miles a
day, and would have been captured or destroyed to a man had Jackson
continued his pursuit, but his forces were fewer in numbers, and he
allowed the exhausted and panic-stricken fugitives to find refuge in

This routing of Banks frightened Washington again, and McDowell was
hastily called from Fredericksburg to the defense of the capital. This
was the very thing for which the Confederates had planned, since it kept
those reinforcements away from McClellan, who was ordered by President
Lincoln to attack at once or give up his plan. Still cautious and
wishing to feel every foot of the way, McClellan pushed a reconnaissance
in the direction of Hanover Court-House.

When fire was opened on the Confederates most of them fell back to
Richmond. General Jo Johnston, perceiving that the Union army was
divided by the swollen Chickahominy, quickly took advantage of it, and
prepared to hurl a force of 50,000 against the Union corps, which
numbered a little more than half as many. A violent rain so interfered
with his plans that 10,000 of his troops were unable to take part in the
battle. In the disjointed struggle which followed, the Confederates were
successful at what is known as the battle of Seven Pines, but were
defeated at Fair Oaks. Both were fought on June 1st.


In the fighting on the morrow, General Johnston, while directing the
attack of the right, was desperately wounded by an exploding shell,
which broke several ribs and knocked him from his horse. General G.W.
Smith succeeded him in command, but three days later gave way to General
R.E. Lee, who in time became the supreme head of the military forces of
the Confederacy, and retained his command to the last.


The corps commanders believed that if McClellan would press matters
Richmond could be captured, but the Union leader devoted several weeks
to building bridges. It rained incessantly and the health of the men
suffered. Many more died from disease than from bullets and wounds, and
McClellan's tardiness gave the enemy the time they needed in which to
make their combinations as strong as possible. Stonewall Jackson,
although placed in a perilous position in the Shenandoah Valley,
skillfully extricated himself and united his corps with the troops that
were defending Richmond.


While McClellan was engaged in constructing bridges over the
Chickahominy, and no important movement was made by either army, General
J.E.B. Stuart, the famous cavalry leader, left Richmond, June 13th, with
a strong mounted force, and, by rapid riding and his knowledge of the
country, passed entirely around the Federal army, cutting telegraph
wires, burning bridges, capturing wagons and supplies, frightening
McClellan, and returning to Richmond, after two days' absence, with the
loss of only a single man.

The Union commander was discouraged by the withdrawal of McDowell to the
defense of Washington, by the uncertainty regarding the disposition of
the enemy's corps, and by the belief that they were much more numerous
than was the fact. He decided to change the base of his operations from
the Pamunkey to the James. Both he and Lee fixed upon the same day--June
26th--for an offensive movement; but Lee was the first to act. On the
afternoon of that day a vehement attack was made upon the Union right.
The assault was repulsed, after a furious struggle, and it marked the
beginning of that fearful series of battles known as the Seven Days'


Feeling insecure, McClellan fell back, and the terrific fighting,
beginning June 26th, at Mechanicsville, continued with scarcely any
intermission until July 1st. Both armies were well handled and fought
bravely, but McClellan kept steadily falling back. Lee was not satisfied
with simply defeating the Union army; he strained every nerve to destroy
it, but he was defeated in his purpose, and, as the hot afternoon of
June 30th was drawing to a close, the last wagon train of the Union army
reached Malvern Hill, and preparations were hurriedly made to resist the
assault that every one knew would soon come.

Malvern Hill was a strong position. In addition the Federals had the aid
of the gunboats. Indeed, the place was so well-nigh impregnable that the
warmest admirers of General Lee must condemn his furious and repeated
assaults upon it. He suffered a disastrous repulse, and in the end
withdrew to the defenses of Richmond, while McClellan took position at
Harrison's Landing. All the Union troops had arrived by the night of
July 3d, and their commander began to study out a new plan for another
advance against the Confederate capital. Before anything could be done,
he was peremptorily ordered to withdraw his army from the peninsula. The
movement was begun with the purpose of uniting the troops with those of
General Pope, who was to the southeast of Washington, and placing them
all under his command.

Pope had 40,000 troops between Fredericksburg and Washington. Learning
the situation, Lee kept enough men to hold Richmond, and sent the rest,
under Stonewall Jackson, against Pope in the north. Jackson executed the
task intrusted to him in his usual meteoric fashion. Despite the risk
involved, he threw himself between Pope and Washington and struck here,
there, and everywhere so rapidly that the Union general became
bewildered, his associate officers disgusted, and everything was
involved in inextricable confusion.


The second battle of Bull Run, or Manassas, opened early on August 29th
and lasted until dusk. The fighting was desperate, Jackson standing
mainly on the defensive and waiting for Longstreet, who was hurrying
forward through Thoroughfare Gap. At night Jackson withdrew so as to
connect with Longstreet. Believing the movement meant a retreat, Pope
telegraphed to that effect to Washington. But he was grievously
mistaken, for the Confederates were rapidly reinforced, as was
discovered the next day, when the battle was renewed and pressed
resistlessly against the Federals. In the afternoon Lee arrived on the
ground, and, taking command, ordered an advance. Pope retreated, and
that night crossed Bull Run and took position behind the field works at
Centreville. Other corps joined him, and on the 1st of September Lee
made a demonstration against the Union right flank. Pope now became
terrified, as he saw that Washington was threatened, and he began a
tumultuous retreat toward the capital, pursued and harassed by the
Confederates, until at last the whole disorganized army found rest and
safety behind the fortifications at Washington. Pope had been
disastrously defeated, and the second campaign against Richmond was one
of the worst failures conceivable.


Pope had done the best he knew how, but the task was beyond his ability,
and he was glad enough to be relieved of his command, which was assumed
once more by McClellan, who still retained a great deal of his
popularity with the rank and file. Pope's division had been styled the
Army of Virginia, but the name was now dropped, and the consolidated
forces adopted the title of the Army of the Potomac, by which it was
known to the close of the war.

The success of the Confederates had been so decisive that the Richmond
authorities now decided to assume the aggressive and invade the North.
It was a bold plan thus to send their principal army so far from its
base, and General Lee did not favor it, but the opportunity was too
tempting for his superiors to disregard.

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