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[61]

The fortifications upon which skillful engineers, commanding the resources of the United States, had been engaged since April, manned by at least fifty thousand Federal troops,1 half of whom had not suffered defeat.

The Potomac, a mile wide, bearing United States vessels-of-war, the heavy guns of which commanded the wooden bridges and southern shore.

The Confederate army would have been two days in marching from Bull Run to the Federal intrenchments, with less than two days rations, or not more.2 It is asserted that the country, teeming with grain and cattle, could have furnished food and forage in abundance. Those who make the assertion forget that a large Federal army had passed twice over the route in question. Many of the Southern people have seen tracts of country along which a Federal army has passed once; they can judge, therefore, of the abundance left where it has passed twice. As we had none of the means of besieging, an immediate assault upon the forts would have been unavoidable; it would have been repelled, inevitably, and our half supply of ammunition exhausted; and the enemy, previously increased to seventy thousand men by the army from Harper's Ferry, and become the victorious party, could and would have resumed their march to Richmond without fear of further opposition.

And, if we had miraculously been successful in our assault, the Potomac would have protected

1 Mansfield's, Miles's, and Runyon's divisions, and eleven thousand men sent from camps in Pennsylvania, July 22d.

2 Dabney's “Life of Jackson.”

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