previous next

[231] in “disorganization” and “dismay,” and that when General Barnard says, “we know it could have been followed into Richmond,” he claims the authority of omniscience. The reasons why the enemy were not pursued are amply and satisfactorily stated in General McClellan's Report. The Grape-vine and Sunderland bridges had been carried away. The approaches to New and Mechanicsville bridges, higher up the stream, were overflowed; and both of them were enfiladed by batteries of the enemy. To have advanced upon Richmond, the troops must have been marched from various points on the left banks of the Chickahominy to Bottom's Bridge, and over the Williamsburg road to Fair Oaks, upwards of twenty miles,--a march which, as the roads then were, could not have been made in less than two days. “In short,” as General McClellan says,--
The idea of uniting the two wings of the army in time to make a vigorous pursuit of the enemy, with the prospect of overtaking him before he reached Richmond, only five miles distant from the field of battle, is simply absurd, and was, I presume, never for a moment seriously entertained by any one connected with the Army of the Potomac.1

1 General Barnard, in his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, says, By the rise of the Chickahominy the two bridges built by General Sumner became impracticable by the night of the 31st. The bridges at Bottom's Bridge with difficulty were preserved from destruction; but the rising water overflowed the adjacent road, and soon these bridges became useless for wagons or horses. Fortunately, the railroad bridge had been repaired; and by this alone the left wing of the army was supplied. By means of planks laid between the rails, infantry, and, with some risk, horses, could pass. This, for several days, was the only communication between the two wings of the army. --Report on the Conduct of the War, vol. i . p. 401.

The case in defence of General McClellan can hardly be more strongly put than by this statement; but how is it to be reconciled with General Barnard's subsequently-expressed opinion?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George Brinton McClellan (3)
Barnard (3)
Sunderland (1)
E. V. Sumner (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: