« AnteriorContinuar »
W. R. Vol. XI., Part I.,
of the Civil War."
sutlers' stores, the killing of several of the guard and Ch. XXIIL teamsters at Garlick's Landing, some little damage done at Tunstall's Station, and a little éclat, were the precise results of this expedition.
McClellan had for some time been vaguely meditating a change of base to the James River, and this raid of Stuart seems to have somewhat strengthened this purpose. Fitz-John Porter, who more than any other possessed his confidence, says that McClellan desired to effect this movement as soon as he gave up looking for McDowell to join him, which, we have seen from his report, was in the first week of June. “As early as June 18,” Porter says, he “sent vessels loaded with supplies to the James River.” It is not intended to intimate that he was fully resolved upon this course; but he appears to have kept it constantly before him, in his undecided, irresolute way, all through the month. His communication with Commodore John Rodgers, who commanded on the James, indicates a purpose to move to some point on that river. He says on the 24th:
In a few days I hope to gain such a position as to enable me to place a force above Ball's and Drewry's bluffs, so that we can remove the obstructions and place ourselves in communication with you so that you can coöperate in the final attack. In the mean time please keep Vol. XI., some gunboats as near Drewry's Bluff as prudence will permit.
On the 25th he pushed forward his picket line in front of Seven Pines to within four miles of Richmond, a point farther in advance than he had yet reached. At the same time he issued orders to his corps commanders south of the river that they were not to regard these new positions as their
W. R. Vol. XI., Part III.,
CH. XXIII. field of battle, but were to fall back, if attacked, to
their old intrenchments. He had by this time heard of the arrival of Jackson's corps, and also credited a false and impossible rumor of the arrival of Beauregard and his troops from the West. He was fully informed of the attack threatened within
a few hours, and yet he sent to Washington for Ibid., p. 263. more troops. “If I had another good division I Ibid., p. 254. could laugh at Jackson,” he said, while he knew
that Jackson was marching upon his right. He made his usual complaint and threat of putting the responsibility where it belonged. These wanton accusations at such a time moved the President, not to anger, but to genuine sorrow. Yet he answered with almost incredible patience :
Your three dispatches of yesterday in relation to the affair, ending with the statement that you completely succeeded in making your point, are very gratifying. The later one . . . suggesting the probability of your being overwhelmed by 200,000, and talking of where the responsibility will belong, pains me very much. I give you all I can, and act on the presumption that you will do the best you can with what you have, while you continue,
ungenerously I think, to assume that I could give you McClellan, more if I would. I have omitted, and shall omit, no op
portunity to send you reënforcements whenever I possibly Ibid., p. 259.
It is impossible to say how long his desultory preparations would have lasted if General McClellan had been left to himself; but after the 23d of June, the power of deciding upon what day he should attack had already passed out of his hands. General Lee had made, at his leisure, all his arrangements for attacking the Union army, and had chosen the time and the manner of onset,- as Johnston did a
Webb, “The Pen
month before,— without the slightest reference to CH. XXII. any possible initiative of McClellan. He had, during the month allowed him by the inactivity of his opponent, brought together from every available source a great army, almost equal in numbers to the Army of the Potomac. Though there is a great disparity in the accounts of the different Confederate officers who have written upon this subject, there is no reason to doubt that the official estimate quoted with approval by General Webb, which states Lee's force as 80,762, is substantially correct. Webb says that McClellan's effective force for the “ seven days' battles was 92,500 — considerably pp. 119, 120. less than his own official report of the 20th of June vol: XI., gives him, which, exclusive of Dix's force, was 105,445. The Confederate forces were, like the army opposed to them, of the best material the country could furnish; and no better men ever went to war, in any age or region. It is an unsolved and now an insolvable question whether the Confederates had gained or lost by the wounding of Johnston and the substitution of Lee as the commander of their principal army. They were both men of the best ability and highest character that the Southern States could produce; both trained soldiers, of calm temper and great energy; and both equally honorable and magnanimous in their treatment of their subordinates. But General Lee had a great advantage over his predecessor in possessing the perfect confidence and personal friendship of Jefferson Davis, the head of the Confederate Government. He was always sure in his enterprises of what Johnston often lacked, the sincere and zealous support of the Richmond Government. Не
CH. XXIII. also enjoyed, to an unusual degree, the warm re
gard and esteem of those who were brought into personal or official relations with him. His handsome and attractive presence, his dignified yet cordial manner, a certain sincerity and gentleness which was apparent in all his words and actions, endeared him to his associates and made friends of strangers at first sight. Everything he asked for was given him. He had been the favorite of General Scott in the old army; he became the favorite of Mr. Davis in his new command. The army
which Johnston gave up to him had been almost Johartar doubled in numbers by the time he considered himpp. 145, 146. self ready to employ it against McClellan.
Lee's preparations were promptly and energetiJune, 1862. cally made. Immediately after Stuart's raid was
completed he ordered Stonewall Jackson to join Vol. XI., him by a letter of the 16th, which gave minute
instructions for his march and enjoined upon him Davis, Rise and the greatest secrecy and swiftness. To mask this erate for movement he ostentatiously sent Jackson two brivon.me," gades from Richmond, with drums beating and
colors flying, a proceeding which was promptly vol. XI., reported to McClellan and caused him at first some
perplexity, but which he explained by his usual conclusion that Lee had so overwhelming a force that a few brigades here or there made no difference to him. The manœuvre was of little practical account, however, as McClellan was fully informed of Jackson's approach in time to provide against it,
or to anticipate his arrival by taking the offensive. Ibid., p. 264. He even knew as early as the 25th that Jackson
was to come in on his right and rear, but he made no use of this knowledge except to reproach the
Government for not sending him more troops. CH. XXIII. Jackson reported at Richmond in person on the 23d of June, in advance of his corps; and in a conference with Longstreet and the two Hills the plan of attacking the Federal right wing, north of the Chickahominy, was agreed upon. As Jackson's troops had the greatest distance to march, it was left to him to say when the attack should be made. He named the morning of the 26th of June, giving himself, as it afterwards appeared, too little time.
General Lee matured his plan on the 24th, and issued his orders for the coming campaign. The most striking thing about them is his evident contempt for his opponent. He sent, in effect, full two-thirds of his army to the north side of the Chickahominy to strike McClellan's right wing. The enemy is to be "driven from Mechanicsville”; the Confederates are to “sweep down the Chickahominy and endeavor to drive the enemy from his position above New Bridge; General Jackson bearing well to his left, turning Beaver Dam Creek, and taking the direction towards Cold Harbor. They will then press forward towards the York River Railroad, closing upon the enemy's rear, and forcing him down the Chickahominy. Any advance of the enemy towards Richmond will be prevented by vigorously following his rear, and crippling and arresting his progress.” He anticipated the possibility of McClellan's abandoning his intrenchments on the south side of the river, in which case he is to be “closely pursued” by Huger and Magruder. Cavalry were to occupy the roads to arrest his flight "down the Chickahominy.” pp. 498, 498. General Lee's plan and expectation was, in short,
W. R. Vol. XI.,