Doc. 78.-the seven days Contests.
Cincinnati Commercial account.
James River, Va., Tuesday Evening, July 2, 1862.O friends! could you realize the afflictions of the past five days, you could almost shed tears of blood. Said a noble and gallant soldier, whose visage was wan, whose voice was tremulous with inexpressible emotion, whose beard was matted with his own precious blood — the crimson drops were trickling from his wound even then: “O my friends! it is horrible, horrible! to see this proud army so wretchedly pressed upon every side, destruction threatening wherever we turn, scarce a hope of extrication save that which is born of despair. It is horrible.” And the devoted soldier, who had faced the foe all day, and far into the night which had passed, turned into the forest to hide his manly grief. Had you seen his worn and haggard warriors plunge wearily on the soil around him, begrimed with smoke, and some of them stained with blood, and had you known that an hour later those brave men, already exhausted and stiffened with long fighting and weary marching, would be summoned again to deadly combat, you, too, would have echoed my noble friend. With all his weariness and all his deep distress of mind, his sword was flashing defiance again at the breast of the foe, before the sun rode highest in the empyrean. Oh! the gloomy countenances and anxious hearts of those dark days! Would to God such days had passed away forever! 0 my countrymen! you cannot comprehend the toils and trials of your devoted soldiers during those days of murderously unequal combat — conflict not simply with superior masses of disciplined soldiery, but contention against insidious thirst, craving appetite, enfeebling heat, overpowering fatigue — and after fighting and marching, and privations by day and suffering by night, and fighting by days succeeding nights of fighting and harassing vigils, against fresh forces hurled upon them in overpowering masses, till exhausted nature almost sunk beneath such fearful visitations, to be pressed to the imminent verge of despair was almost too much for human nature to endure. Oh! what a glorious spirit of devotion to country that inspires men to conquer such distress! I tell you, people, the soldiers of your army have won title to immortality. Whatever fate betide them, their children's children may proudly boast: “Our fathers were of the army of the Potomac.” The soil of Virginia is now sacred. It is bathed with the reddest blood of this broad land. Every rood of it, from Upper Chickahominy to the base of Malvern Hill, is crimsoned with the blood of your brave brethren. The dark forests-fitting canopy for such woeful sacrifice — echo with the wails of wounded and dying men. There is a bloody corpse in every copse, and mangled soldiers in every thicket of that ensanguined field. Side by side they lie and die, friendly with the misguided foe whom they so lately fought. God only knows how many of the weary ones, plunged headlong into the shade of those gloomy pines, for a brief respite from the pressure of war's iron heel, lie there now to sleep the sleep that knows no waking. But while I write these lines the foe presses hard. Our soldiers turn their breasts to the steel. Their backs are upon the river. O God! shall they not stand where they now fight sternly and so well? There is a record of sorrow — it is softened, too, by great pride — to be made, how your brethren watched and pressed the enemy for months, and how their leader begged, and was not relieved, for power to conquer ; how day after day they fought and bled — can you forget Fair Oaks and the weeks of watching and fighting in view of the spires of Richmond?--how they fought and conquered on Wednesday last; how they fought and won on Thursday; how they resisted and beat back the great surging tide of the foe on Friday, but at last, after deeds of heroism, they were compelled to yield to overwhelming power; and how on Saturday and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday they marched and suffered and fought as if every soldier had the soul of a hero in his frame, when nature's energies, almost exhausted, counselled with their fears, they still stood staggering but unconquerable, and met the summons to fight as if it were a privilege to be enjoyed. These were scenes to move the strongest heart. But oh! how cruel, friends, that such brave souls should be pressed almost to the very brink of ruin! They stood up still, with want pressing them, with fatigue crushing them, and at every summons to the field, they followed the old flag with cheers like the songs of gods. There was a moral heroism displayed by those worn men that will make our history's pages shine with splendid lustre. But the record. With such feeble power as I can exert, after nights of sleeplessness and days of fasting and hardships — no more comparable though with our weary soldiers' troubles than the labor of a pigmy with the works of Hercules — I shall attempt the task. It will be necessary, however, to carry you over the field and present the salient points in advance. You remember that the army was pressing hard upon Richmond. Every communication to the press assured you that it was not strong enough to execute the task. For weeks the symptoms of insufficiency of power manifestly increased. But the army pressed so closely upon Richmond, it could not be withdrawn without great peril. Gen. McClellan was committed to “do all he could” with what he had, while he hoped for aid. If the enemy did not reinforce he might accomplish his aim. So the work was pressed, while the people clamored that it was slow. The right wing, consisting of McCall's, Morell's, and Sykes's divisions, less than twenty-five thousand strong, was well posted on the left bank of the Chickahominy, from Beaver Dam Creek to a point below New-Bridge. Several