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[170] cavalry, to advance upon and seize Malvern Hill. Through the incompetency of his guides, Hooker's first attempt miscarried; but it was renewed the next night,1 and, notwithstanding the ample notice of it given to the enemy, proved an easy success; Hooker driving the Rebels from Malvern with a loss of barely 14, and taking 100 prisoners; Col. Averill, with part of Pleasanton's cavalry, pushing north to White Oak Swamp Bridge, driving thence the 10th Virginia cavalry and capturing 28 men and horses. This advance, promptly and vigorously followed up in force, would doubtless have placed McClellan in Richmond forthwith.

But Gen. M. had already received an order2 directing a withdrawal of his army by water to Acquia creek, to support a fresh demonstration on Richmond from the Rappahannock; which order he began3 most reluctantly to obey; of course, recalling Gen. Hooker from Malvern. He was now eager to resume the offensive with far smaller reenforcements than he had recently pronounced indispensable, and suggested that, in addition to Burnside's men, they might be spared him from Pope's army on the Rappahannock and from the West. Gen. Halleck--assuming the correctness of McClellan's own mistaken assumption as to the strength of the Rebel Army of Virginia--replied4 with crushing cogency as follows:

Allow me to allude to a few of the facts in the case.

You and your officers at our interview estimated the enemy's forces in and around Richmond at 200,000 men. Since then, you and others report that they have received and are receiving large reenforcements from the South. Gen. Pope's army, now covering Washington, is only about 40.000. Your effective force is only about 90,000. You are about thirty miles from Richmond, and Gen. Pope eighty or ninety, with the enemy directly between you, ready to fall with his superior numbers upon one or the other, as lie may elect; neither can reenforce the other in case of such an attack.

It Gen. Pope's army be diminished to reenforce you, Washington, Maryland, and Pennsylvania would be left uncovered and exposed. If your force be reduced to strengthen Pope, you would be too weak to even hold the position you now occupy, should the enemy turn around and attack you in full force. In other words, the old Army of the Potomac is split into two parts, with the entire force of the enemy directly between them. They cannot be united by land without exposing both to destruction; and yet they must be united. To send Pope's forces by water to the Peninsula, is, under present circumstances, a military impossibility. The only alternative is to send the forces on the Peninsula to some point by water-say Fredericksburg — where the two armies can be united. * * *

But, you will reply, why not reenforce me here, so that I can strike Richmond from my present position? To do this, you said at our interview, that you required 30,000 additional troops. I told you that it was impossible to give you so many. You finally thought that you would have some chance of success with 20,000. But you afterward telegraphed me that you would require 35,000, as the enemy was being largely reenforced.

If your estimate of the enemy's strength was correct, your requisition was perfectly reasonable; but it was utterly impossible to fill it until new troops could be enlisted and organized; which would require several weeks.

To keep your army in its present position until it could be so reenforeed, would almost destroy it in that climate. The months of August and September are almost fatal to whites who live on that part of James river; and, even after you receive the reenforcements asked for, you admitted that you must reduce Fort Darling and the river batteries before you could advance on Richmond.

It is by no means certain that the reduction of these fortifications would not require considerable time — perhaps as much as those at Yorktown.

This delay might not only be fatal to the health of your army, but in the mean

1 August 4-5.

2 On the 4th, dated 3d.

3 August 7.

4 August 6.

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