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[283] into Washington from the west began to be filled with the broken fragments of a defeated and demoralized army, like a lee shore strewn with the wreck of a noble fleet. Ambulances moved slowly along with their mournful freight of wounded men. Groups and squads of straggling soldiers appeared, weary and footsore, some slightly hurt, and all dispirited, some sadly silent, and some uttering curses and threats. The emergency of the case required immediate action; and in view of the attachment of the Army of the Potomac to their late commander, and of their unabated confidence in him, the President of the United States did the best and wisest thing he could have done under the circumstances: he turned to General McClellan for help. In a personal interview, he begged of the latter to reassume command of the forces, make provisions for the defence of the capital, and act according to the best of his judgment for the common cause. Not readily, not without a good deal of anxious misgiving, did General McClellan yield; but he did yield at last. He accepted the trust, and instantly began the discharge of its duties with his wonted energy. Aides were sent out to the commanders of divisions, with instructions to move their commands to designated points. On the very day of his reappointment, General McClellan was himself in the saddle, giving personal directions to portions of the advancing army; and the next day he was at Alexandria, rectifying the positions of the troops and issuing necessary orders.

The soldiers of the Army of the Potomac, as soon

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