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[55] upon the river, and crowned with an immense armament of heavy guns, it was always practicable for the Army of the Potomac to recross to its position of safety after a repulse. The result, therefore, must have been, as we always feared it would be, that that army, heavily reinforced under some new and more sagacious commander, would have been transported, by way of the Potomac, Chesapeake, and James river, to the position Grant was finally forced to take on the south of the James, when a siege of Richmond and Petersburg would have ensued, and the fall of those cities would have been only a question of time.

As to the alternatives presented, if we took the aggressive, it was impossible for us to have attacked the Army of the Potomac in its position on the north of the Rappahannock, except at great disadvantage. If you examine the map of that part of Virginia, and take into consideration the fact that the Rappahannock, between the two armies, and below, and for some distance above, could be crossed only on pontoon bridges; that from the nature of the ground we could not have forced the passage if we had the bridges, and that if we had undertaken to cross above, at some point where bridges were not necessary, we would have had to make a wide circuit and cross two rivers, the iRapidan and Rappahannock, you can understand the difficulties we would have had to encounter in making the attack. If you knew the exact topography of the country, you would perceive the difficulties more clearly.

Unless, therefore, we had made up our minds to perish by degrees, it was necessary to adopt one of the other alternatives. Of course, Hooker would not have undertaken another forward movement until his army was sufficiently recruited to supply the loss incurred at Chancellorsville, and the diminution from the expiration of the terms of service of a portion of his troops, which was rapidly approaching, and to draw him out from his position of safety before that happened, it was necessary for us to threaten Washington or the States north of the Potomac. To have moved directly on Washington would have been idle,

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