His Excellency could not judge of the formidable character of the works before us as well as if he had been on the ground; and, whatever might have been his desire for prompt action (certainly no greater than mine), I feel confident, if he could have made a personal inspection of the enemy's defences, he would have forbidden me risking the safety of the army and the possible successes of the campaign on a sanguinary assault of an advantageous and formidable position, which, even if successful, could not have been followed up to any other or better result than would have been reached by the regular operations of a siege. Still less could I forego the conclusions of my most instructed judgment for the mere sake of avoiding the personal consequences intimated in the President's despatch.The investment of Yorktown, as it proved, cost a month of valuable time,--which certainly was no inconsiderable gain to the enemy; but, on the other band, it cost us no loss of life. We got it at last without bloodshed. But suppose General McClellan had assaulted it early in April, as now he is blamed by many for not having done, and, after the frightful carnage which must have been the result of such an attempt,--after thousands of the flower of our population had been mowed down by a tempest of iron hail, as grass falls before the mower's scythe,--the attack had been at last unsuccessful, as was the Duke of Wellington's upon Burgos: what would have been the public feeling,--bearing in mind always that the judgment of the Chief Engineer,
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