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At the time the Army of the Potomac landed on the Peninsula, the Rebel cause was at its lowest ebb. Its armies were demoralized by the defeats of Port Royal, Mill Spring, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Roanoke Island, and Pea Ridge; and reduced by sickness, loss in battle, expirations of period of service, etc.; while the conscription law was not yet even passed. It seemed as if it needed but one vigorous gripe to end forever this Rebellion, so nearly throttled. How, then, happened it, that the day of the initiation of the campaign of this magnificent Army of the Potomac was the day of the resuscitation of the Rebel cause, which seemed to grow pari passu with the slow progress of its operations? However I may be committed to any expression of professional opinion to the contrary (I certainly did suggest it), my opinion now is that the lines of Yorktown should have been assaulted. There is reason to believe that they were not held in strong force when our army appeared before them; and we know that they were far from complete. The prestige of power, the morale, were on our side. It was due to ourselves to confirm and sustain it. We should probably lave succeeded. But, if we had failed, it may well be doubted whether the shock of an unsuccessful assault would be more demoralizing than the labors of a siege. Our troops toiled a. month in the trench's, or lay in the swamps of Warwick. We lost few men by the siege; but disease took a fearful hold of the army; and toil and hardship, unredeemed by the excitement of combat. impaired their morale. We did not carry with us from Yorktown so good an army as we took there. Of the bitter fruits of that month gained by the enemy, we have tasted to our heart's content.
2 May 4.
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