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1 Gen. McClellan, in his report, states that the still rising, Chickahomiay floated the log-way approaches to Gen. Sumner's brigade, after that officer had crossed his corps, so as to render them impasssble, hence he [McClellan] was obliged to send his horse around by Bottom's Bridge, six miles below, in returning to his headquarters. He adds:
The approaches to New and Mechanicsville bridges were also overflowed, and both of them were eufilade I by the enemy's batteries established upon commanding hights on the opposite side. These batteries were supported by strong forces of the enemy, having numerous ride-pits in their front, which would have made it necessary, even had the approaches been in the best possible condition, to have fought a sanguinary battle, with but little prospect of success, before a passage could have been secured. The only available means, therefore, of uniting our forces at Fair Oaks, for an advance on Richmond soon after the battle, was to march the troops from Mechaniesville, and other points on the left bank of the Chickahominy, down to Bottom's Bridge, and thence over the Williamsburg road to the position near Fair Oaks, a distance of about twenty-three (2:;) miles. In the condition of the roads at that time, this march could not have been made with artillery in less than two days; by which time the enemy would have been secure within his intrenchments around Richmond.It is hard for non-military readers to appreciate admiringly the Generalship which confessedly exposes one wing of an army for two days to the entire force of its adversary, without assistance in any form from the other. If there be any military reason why Gen. McClellan should have thrown two corps across the Chickahominy on his left, within a few miles of Richmond, without simultaneously, or for five days thereafter, pushing over his right also, and seizing the commanding rights which were enfiladed by the enemy's batteries, no indications of them appear in his report: which, with reference to following up our advantage of the 1st, naively says:
An advance involving the separation of the two wings by the impossible Chickahominy would have exposed each to defeat in detail.That Gen. McClellan greatly over-estimated the strength of the Rebel batteries ant their supports opposite Fitz-John Porter and Franklin, and the difficulty of crossing there, is made plain by his dispatch, four days later, to the War Department, as follows:
Gen. J. G. Barnard, chief engineer, in his report of tie campaign, says:
The repulse of the Rebels at Fair Oaks should have been taken advantage of. It was one of those occasions which, if not seized, do not repeat themselves. We now know the state of disorganization and dismay in which the Rebel army retreated. We now know that it could have been followed into Richmond. Had it been so, there would have been no resistance to overcome to bring over our right wing. Although we did not then know all that we now do, it was obvious at that time that, when the Rebels struck the blow at our left wing, they did not leave any means in their hands unused to secure success. It was obvious enough that they struck with their whole force; and yet we repulsed them in disorder with three-fifths of ours. We should have followed them up at the same time that we brought over the other two-fifths.
2 June 1.
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