Imágenes de páginas

action occupied about an hour. The enemy renewed the attack on the left about six o'clock, with artillery, advancing his infantry columns to storm the hill. These were swept away by our batteries, and each successive attacking party shared the same fate, until the field was covered with the wounded and dead. Not only artillery fire, but also volleys of musketry and bayonet charges, met the persistent assailants, who advanced, column after column, only to be crushed and scattered. Night ended the terrible struggle—the Stars and Stripes floating in grand triumph over the field made ghastly with the Rebel masses, fallen in the vain attempt to overwhelm a gallant army that six days before had seemed their easy prey.

Instead of improving the advantage gained, to drive into Richmond an enemy whose strength, as now shown by repeated trials, had been greatly overrated, and who was disheartened by continued defeat, the commanding General withdrew his forces from their strong position, retiring to Harrison's Landing. This was effected during the next two days, with no serious attempt at molestation from the enemy. Gen. McClellan states the entire number of his killed, wounded and missing during these seven days, at 15,249.

Thus ended the Peninsular campaign-adding three disastrous months of unmasterly activity to the eight months of dreamy indecision before Washington. It was no fault of the army. It was from no lack of support by the Government. It was due to no combination of untoward events. The posi. tive successes at Williamsburg, at Fair Oaks, at Savage's Station, at Glendale, and at Malvern Hill, show that the Army of the Potomac could win victories, even against great supposed odds in numbers and in position, when courageously led to the fight.

In adopting a route to Richmond by the Lower Chesapeake, against the better judgment of the President, Gen. McClellan had expressed his readiness to stake his reputation, his life, and the cause itself, on the success of his plan. He was furnished all needful means, and every available man, consistently with his own opinions as to the necessary security of Washing

ton, and with the express conditions agreed to by himself in undertaking the work. He sadly failed in his efforts to employ those men and means to the accomplishment of the end desired.

The military record of the campaign has a singular sameness. When occasionally his roads are good, he can not move without reënforcements. When his reënforcements come, he has to wait for better roads. Thus time passes—the month of April, before an army originally one-eighth as large as his own; much of May and June by the sickly Chickahominy, his men not unfit for duty engaged in throwing up intrenchments, to be abandoned on the first attack. Day after day, he is only waiting for something just on the point of being gained, when his final advance and assault are to commence. But perfect readiness never comes; and at last, the enemy, concentrating all his strength, himself attacks, and puts upon its defense, an army that was confidently led forth for aggressive war.

A month wasted at Yorktown, without plausible palliation; tardy pursuit, after the unintended battle, resulting in victory at Williamsburg; unaccountable hesitation and slackness op the Chickahominy ; utter neglect to use the known absence of Jackson, or to anticipate the arrival of Beauregard after the evacuation of Corinth; insured an otherwise impossible discomfiture. Never did the result of a campaign more bitterly disappoint public hope. The worst that Mr. Lincoln had foreseen from the adoption of the Peninsular plan had happened, and even a loss of the entire army was now dreaded. Every advantage supposed by Gen. McClellan to be attainable by this route to Richmond had been thrown away. The cause had suffered a vastly greater blow than at Bull Run. The nation was more depressed; the Administration more painfully embarrassed, than by any previous calamity. The worst effects upon the cause, abroad and at home, were to be apprehended from this unfortunate issue of a grand military plan.


Campaign of the Army of Virginia.-Withdrawal of the Army of the

Potomac from the Peninsula.--First Invasion of Maryland.-McClellan Superseded.

GEN. FREMONT, commanding the Mountain Department, and Gen. Banks, commanding the Department of the Shenandoah, having failed to coöperate effectively in carrying out the President's order intended to entrap Jackson in his bold operations in the Valley, and the subsequeat movements of GenMcDowell, in command of the Department of the Rappahannock, having also been unable to render decisive aid in this work, it became manifest that a reorganization of the forces in question, under one head, had become necessary. Some time before the final catastrophe at Richmond, it had also become apparent that the Army of the Potomac, instead of accomplishing its object, was rather in danger of being itself sacrificed. Meanwhile, the capture of New Madrid, the occupation of Corinth, and the rapid advance of our forces down the Mississippi, taking possession of Fort Pillow on the 5th of June, and of Memphis on the 6th, and passing with little opposition to Vicksburg, (before which our fleet appeared on the 25th,) had not only secured substantial results, but had also awakened a desire for similar leadership in the East.

Few events of the war, thus far, had evinced better generalship than the operations at New Madrid and Island Number Ten, in which Maj.-Gen. John Pope was the hero. Aside from Gen. Grant, still needed with the Army of the Tennessee, no other general, at this time, was more emphatically a rising man in the army. The President accordingly determined to call Gen. Pope to Washington, where he arrived about the 20th of June. After full consultation and deliberation, the President having visited Gen. Scott at West Point, on the 24th, it was decided

to consolidate the three departments specified above, and to organize a new campaign. In pursuance of this purpose, the President issued his order, on the 26th of June, creating the Army of Virginia, under the command of Gen. Pope, the forces under Gen. Fremont to constitute the First Army Corps, those of Gen. Banks the Second Corps, and those under Gen. McDowell the Third Corps, each to be commanded by those cfficers respectively. At the time of this action, the critical condition of McClellan's army seemed to impose the necessity of positive measures for protecting Washington and holding the approach into Maryland and Pennsylvania by the Shenandoah Valley, from the first foreseen, as since demonstrated, to be an important element of the military position.

On the 27th, Gen. Fremont asked to be relieved from his command. This request was granted, and his connection with the army, in any active command, has never since been resumed. Gen. Francis Sigel was soon after put in command of the First Corps of the Army of Virginia in his stead.

Maj.-Gen. Halleck was also called to Washington. It may be safely assumed that the appointment of this officer as General-in-chief of the army was one of the subjects in regard to which the President had anxiously desired the counsel of Gen. Scott, and about which there was a free interchange of views, on the memorable visit of the 24th of June. The appointment of Gen. Halleck as General-in-chief was officially announced on the 11th of July.

On the 28th of June, the Governors of seventeen States united in an address to the President, expressing their belief in the readiness of the people to respond to a call for more troops, and in the popular desire for prompt and vigorous measures to end the rebellion. In response, the following cir. cular was sent to each of the Governors uniting in this sug. gestion, and the call for three hundred thousand additional troops was at once published :

Virginia ashington. oficer Bass


July 1, 1862.) GENTLEMEN: Fully concurring in the wisdom of the views expressed to me in so patriotic a manner by you in the com

munication of the 28th day of June, I have decided to call into the service an additional force of three hundred thousand men.

I suggest and recommend that the troops should be chiefly of infantry. The quota of your State would be — I trust that they may be enrolled without delay, so as to bring this unnecessary and injurious civil war to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion.

An order fixing the quotas of the respective States will be issued by the War Department to-morrow.


Gen. Pope at once entered on the work of preparation for the far from welcome duties assigned him. On ascertaining the condition of the forces placed at his command, he was painfully conscious of the great disproportion of the means at his disposal to the ends that were desired. In addition to the troops within the intrenchments around Washington, the whole effective force at his disposal was as follows: First Corps, 11,500; Second Corps, (as reported,) 14,500; and Third Corps, 18,400—making in all, 44,400. Gen. Pope states, however, that the Second Corps really numbered but about 8,000, so that the total was barely 38,000. With this force, the new Commanding General had the triple task of defending Washington, holding the Shenandoah Valley, and creating a diversion in favor of the army at Harrison's Landing.

At the first intelligence of Jackson's onset upon the Army of the Potomac by way of Hanover Court House, on the 26th, Gen. Pope had earnestly and repeatedly urged the impolicy of a retreat to the James river, still further away from re-enforcements, but advised, instead, that McClellan should make his way northward, where effective support could be rendered him by the remaining troops in Virginia. This policy of concentration may have been impracticable, under the circumstances ; and at all events, it was little regarded by McClellan, except apon conditions that would expose to the enemy all the approaches to Washington and the Valley. The necessity of cordial coöperation between the little army left for the defense of these positions, and the remnant of McClellan's force, at Harrison's Landing, was obvious. The utter impossibility of send

« AnteriorContinuar »