on the left bank of the York
, or on the Severn
, so as to move upon Gloucester
and West Point
, in order to take in reverse whatever force the enemy might have on the Peninsula
and compel him to abandon his positions.
But, since McDowell
's corps was withheld, this plan, of course, became impossible, and there was no choice left but to attack the enemy's positions directly in front.
And a grave question now rose,--whether these positions should be assaulted or invested.
The problem presented was not easy of solution.
From the moment of landing upon the Peninsula
, it became obvious that the difficulties in the advance to Richmond
were sufficient to task all the resources of the general in command, even if he had been furnished with the entire force promised him,--which he had not been.
The nature of the country is very unfavorable to an invading army, and to the same extent favorable to a force which stands upon the defensive.
It is a low, flat region, little elevated above the level of the sea, thinly inhabited, and scourged with malaria for many weeks of the year.
It is covered with marshy forests; and the roads which traverse it hardly deserve the name.
It is everywhere veined with streams and water-courses, which flow lazily along their level beds, and, by the copious rains which fall there, are easily swollen into broad and shallow lakes.
The earth was constantly saturated with moisture, and the mud was deep, pitiless, and universal.
After a rain, the so-called roads became utterly impracticable for any kind of wheeled vehicle.