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[207] McDowell's division, strengthened by Shields's command, would begin to move on Monday, the 26th, and tells him that McDowell, after joining him, would be under his command.

This, of course, was highly satisfactory, as it gave General McClellan assurance that he would soon be reinforced by at least fifty thousand men, and thus be made sufficiently strong to overpower the large army confronting him. But his astonishment, his agony of disappointment, may well be imagined when all these confident expectations were broken to pieces by the crushing despatch received at a later hour of the same day, which ran thus:--

May 24, 1862, From Washington, 4 P. M.
In consequence of General Banks's critical position, I have been compelled to suspend General McDowell's movements to join you. The enemy are making a desperate push upon Harper's Ferry; and we are trying, to throw General Fremont's force, and part of General McDowell's, in their rear.

It is necessary to go back a little and state the events which occasioned this last despatch.

It will be remembered that the State of Virginia, contrary to sound military maxims, and certainly for reasons other than military, had been parcelled out into five separate commands. General Fremont was west of the mountains, General Banks was in the Valley of the Shenandoah, General McDowell

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