were assigned, or have ever been assigned, for this order, which was in violation of a deliberate and official engagement, and left the general in command of a most important military movement without any base of operations under his own control,--a situation without parallel, it is believed, in military history.
Nor was this all. The terrible Merrimac lay, “hushed in grim repose,” in the James River
; and no one knew when she might reappear or in how formidable a guise.
, then in command of the United States squadron in Hampton Roads
, felt, and with justice, that it was his paramount duty to watch the Merrimac
; and he, consequently, did not venture to detach for the assistance of the army a suitable force to attack the water-batteries at Yorktown
This was contrary to what General McClellan
had been led to expect, and a serious derangement of his plans.
In fact, it should be remembered that during the operations against Yorktown
the navy was not able to lend the army any material assistance till after the siege-guns had partially silenced the enemy's water-batteries.
But the heaviest blow was yet to come.
On the 4th of April the following telegram was received:--