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tion Monday morning to reënforce Jackson. I am painfully impressed with the importance of the struggle before you, and shall aid you all I can consistently with my view of due regard to all points. A. LINCOLN.
On the 29th, Gen. Marcy (chief of McClellan's staff) sent the following dispatch to the Secretary of War:
A detachment from Gen. F. J. Porter's command, under Major Williams, Sixth Cavalry, destroyed the South Anna railroad bridge at about 9 A. M. to-day; a large quantity of Confederate public property was also destroyed at Ashland this morning.
The President replied:
WASHINGTON, May 29, 1862.
Your dispatch as to the South Anna and Ashland being seized by our forces this morning is received. Understanding these points to be on the Richmond and Fredericksburg railroad, I heartily congratulate the country, and thank Gen. McClellan and his army for their seizure.
Gen. R. B. Marcy.
The President had previously telegraphed to Gen. McDowell, on the 28th: "If Porter effects a lodgment on both railroads, near Hanover Court House, consider whether your force in Fredericksburg should not push through and join him."
It is difficult to conceive any collateral operation which, at this juncture, could have had more positive results, than a thorough breaking of the enemy's communication with Jackson, by destroying the South Anna bridges and otherwise. After receiving the President's congratulations, however, on the supposed accomplishment of this object, the Commanding General telegraphed as follows-clearly implying that Porter's movement had really effected little in that direction, as the event proved:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, May 30, 1862. From the tone of your dispatches, and the President's, I do
not think you at all appreciate the value and magnitude of Porter's victory. It has entirely relieved my right flank, which was seriously threatened; routed and demoralized a considerable portion of the Rebel forces; taken over seven hundred and fifty prisoners; killed and wounded large numbers; one gun, many small arms, and much baggage taken. It was one of the handsomest things in the war, both in itself and in its results. Porter has returned, and my army is again well in hand. Another day will make the probable field of battle passable for artillery. It is quite certain that there is nothing in front of McDowell at Fredericksburg. I regard the burning of South Anna bridges as the least important result of Porter's movement.
G. B. MCCLELLAN, Major-General. Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
On the 29th, Mr. Lincoln had telegraphed: "I think we shall be able, within three days, to tell you certainly whether any considerable force of the enemy, Jackson or any one else, is moving on Harper's Ferry or vicinity. Take this expected development into your calculation." On the 31st, McClellan said in a dispatch: "A contraband reports that Beauregard arrived in Richmond day before yesterday with troops, and amid great excitement. . . . . Roads again frightful. Need more ambulances." At the same date, the President sent the following important information:
A circle whose circumference shall pass through Harper's Ferry, Front Royal and Strasburg, and whose center shall be a little north-east of Winchester, almost certainly has within it this morning the forces of Jackson, Ewell and Edward Johnson; quite certainly they were within it two days ago. Some part of their forces attacked Harper's Ferry at dark last evening. Shields, with McDowell's advance, retook Front Royal at 11 A. M. yesterday, with a dozen of our own prisoners taken there a week ago, one hundred and fifty of the enemy, etc... Shields at Front Royal reports a rumor of still an additional force of the enemy, supposed to be Anderson's, having entered the Valley of Virginia. This last may or may not be true. Corinth is certainly in the hands of Gen. Halleck.
The Army of the Potomac, as officially reported on the 31st of May, numbered 127,166, of which force 98,008 were pres
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. McClellan; 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. Frcmont failed to arrest the retreat of Stonewall Jackson, had been fought on the 8th and 9th of June.