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[142]

I was eager to fight on the 31st, from the belief that the flood in the Chickahominy would be at its height that day, and the two parts of the Federal army completely separated by it: it was too soon, however. We should have gained the advantage fully by a day's delay. This would also have given us an accession of about eight thousand men that arrived from the south next morning, under Major-General Holmes and Brigadier-General Ripley; they had been ordered to Richmond without my knowledge, nor was I informed of their approach.1 After this battle of Seven Pines-or Fair Oaks, as the Northern people prefer to call it-General McClellan made no step forward, but employed his troops industriously in intrenching themselves.

I had repeatedly suggested to the Administration the formation of a great army to repel McClellan's invasion, by assembling all the Confederate forces, available for the object, near Richmond. As soon as I had lost the command of the Army of Virginia by wounds in battle, my suggestion was adopted. In that way, the largest Confederate army that ever fought, was formed in the month of June, by strengthening the forces near Richmond with troops from North and South Carolina and Georgia. But, while the Confederate Government was forming this great army, the Federal general was, with equal industry, employed in making defensive arrangements; so that in the “seven days fighting” his intrenchments so covered the operation of “change of base,” that it was attended with little loss, considering the close proximity and repeated engagements of two

1 Such information would have induced me to postpone the attack.

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