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[184] whatever. Down to the present moment, although this want of a general staff had been often felt, its consequences had not been serious. We had the telegraph, which followed the army everywhere and kept up communications between the different corps: the generals could converse together and inform each other of any thing that it was important to know. But, once on the march, this resource was lost to us, and so farewell to our communications!

The want of a general staff was not less severely felt in obtaining and transmitting the information necessary at the moment of an impending action. No one knew the country; the maps were so defective that they were useless. Little was known about the fortified battle-field on which the army was about to be engaged. Yet this battle-field had been seen and reconnoitred the day before by the troops which had taken part in Stoneman's skirmish. Enough was surely known of it for us to combine a plan of attack and assign to every commander his own part in the work. No! this was not so. Every one kept his observations to himself,--not from ill will, but because it was nobody's special duty to do this general work. It was a defect in the organization; and, with the best elements in the world, an army which is not organized cannot expect great success. It is fortunate if it escape great disaster.

Thanks to this constitutional defect of the Federal armies, Hooker's division, which led the column on the left-hand road, and had received, the day before, a general order to march upon Williamsburg, came out on the morning of the 5th upon the scene of Stoneman's cavalry-fight, without the least knowledge of what it was to meet there. Received, as soon as it appeared, with a steady fire from the hostile works, it deployed resolutely in the abatis and went into action. But it came up little by little and alone,--whilst the defence was carried on by

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