« AnteriorContinuar »
giving him command of both sides of the river. CH. XXII. The Confederate general and his adjutant and biographer ascribed the capture of this important position to supernatural means.
As soon as Jackson uttered his command [to seize the bridge) he drew up his horse, and, dropping the reins upon his neck, raised both his hands towards the heavens, while the fire of battle in his face changed into a look of reverential awe. Even while he prayed, the God of battles heard; or ever he had withdrawn his uplifted hands, the bridge was gained.
It would perhaps be irreverent to add that the bridge was not defended. On the same day, June 8, he fought a sharp but indecisive battle with Frémont at Cross Keys, and retiring in the night, he attacked and defeated Shields's small detachment at Port Republic. The mismanagement of the Union generals had opposed to him on both days forces greatly inferior to his own. Before these battles were fought the President, seeing that further pursuit was useless, had ordered Shields back Vol. Xir., to McDowell, Frémont to halt at Harrisonburg for orders, and Banks to guard the posts of Front Royal pp. 655, 641. and Luray. The orders came too late to prevent two unfortunate engagements, but they showed that the civilian at Washington was wiser than the two generals at the front. They both passed thereafter into the ranks of the malcontents — the men with grievances. Shields went back to Washington, where he was received with open arms by the habitual critics of the President. Among them were those of his own household; for we read in Warden, Mr. Chase’s diary that Shields told him, when he was ordered back, that “Jackson's capture was
8. P. Chase,"
CH. XXII. certain," and the general and the Secretary held
harmonious council together over the “terrible mistakes” of the President. This was the last important service of Frémont. He remained in charge of his department a few weeks longer, until he was placed, with others of similar rank, under the general command of Pope. He refused to serve under his junior, and was relieved, not appearing again in any conspicuous position, except for a moment in the summer of 1864, as a candidate for the Presidency in opposition to Mr. Lincoln.
THE SEVEN DAYS' BATTLES
FTER the battle of Fair Oaks, as well as before Ch. XXIIL
it, General McClellan kept up his continual cry for reënforcements. The hallucination that the enemy's force was double his own had become fixed upon him, and all his plans and combinations were poisoned by this fatal error. The President did everything in his power to satisfy the generals unreasonable demands. He resolved to give him absolute control of all the troops on the Peninsula; and knowing that General Wool would never consent to being placed under McClellan's orders, that veteran having expressed himself with characteristic severity in regard to his junior's insatiable demand for troops,— the President thought best to remove General Wool to Baltimore, transferring General Dix to Fort Monroe and placing him under the direct command of McClellan — a proceeding which greatly displeased General Dix, but to which he yielded under protest. His displeasure did not interfere with his convictions of duty. Immediately on arriving at Fort Monroe he sent to General McClellan a reënforcement of ten of the best regiments there. No efforts were spared to help and to encourage McClellan; both the President
W. R. Vol. XI., Part III.,
W. R. Vol. XI., Part I.,
CH. XXIII. and the Secretary of War were perpetually sending
him kind and complimentary messages in addition to the troops and guns which they gathered in from every quarter for him. A few days after Fair Oaks, in response to his repeated entreaties, McCall's division of McDowell's corps, a splendid body of about ten thousand men, was dispatched to him. He was for the moment delighted at hearing that these troops were coming; and having thus obtained the greater part of McDowell's corps, he said, June 7:
I am glad to learn that you are pressing forward reënforcements so vigorously. I shall be in perfect readiness to move forward and take Richmond the moment McCall reaches here and the ground will admit the passage of artillery.
McCall and his perfectly appointed division of ten thousand men and five batteries of artillery began to arrive on the 11th, and were all present for duty on the 13th; and as if Providence were uniting with the Government to satisfy both the general's requirements, he was able to telegraph on the 12th:
Weather now good. Roads and ground rapidly drying.” The weather continued remarkably fine for several days; General Keyes on the 15th reported White Oak Swamp dried up so as to be fordable in many places. But the dry spell did not last, and on the night of the 15th, General McClellan sends to Washington a note of lamentation saying that the rain has begun again, which will “retard our movements somewhat.” It is characteristic of him that he always regarded bad weather as exclusively injurious to him, and never to the other side. The President once said of him that he seemed to
Ibid., Part III.,
think, in defiance of Scripture, that Heaven sent its CH. XXIII. rain only on the just and not on the unjust. To an energetic general all kinds of weather have their uses. Johnston did not allow the terrible storm of May 30 to prevent his attack at Seven Pines; and we have seen how Grant at the very outset of his career, speaking of the bad weather and the wretched roads on which he had to march, said: “This, however, will operate worse upon the enemy .. .. than upon us.”
It must not be forgotten that, although McClellan and his apologists have been for years denouncing the Government for having withheld from him McDowell's corps, the best part of that corps was actually sent to him. Franklin's magnificent division went to him in April, McCall's equally fine division was dispatched to him before the middle of June. In each case he said he only awaited the coming of that particular division to undertake immediate active operations; and in each case, on the arrival of the eagerly demanded reënforcements, he did nothing but wait the good pleasure of the enemy. His own official reports show that he received by way of reënforcements, after his arrival in the Peninsula and prior to the 15th of June, not less than 39,441 men, of whom there were 32,360 Vol. Xi., present for duty. Yet all this counted for nothing with him; he let hardly a day pass without clamoring for more. He was not even inclined to allow the Administration any discretion in regard to the manner in which he was to be reënforced. He insisted that McDowell should be sent to him by water, and not by land, so that he should come in by his rear instead of by his right flank; and when
1862. W. R.