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[427] Richmond, and received a repulse, which was of the utmost importance as breaking the prestige of the gunboats, blocking the way to Richmond, and restoring the confidence of the people.

McClellan was, however, enveloping Richmond with a cordon of intrenchments (temporarily broken by the Confederate victory of Seven Pines), and was only waiting for McDowell's corps to swoop down from Fredericksburg and join him at Hanover Courthouse in order to make his contemplated assault on the “doomed city.” But Jackson's splen-did Valley campaign thwarted this plan. On May 24th McDowell received his order from President Lincoln to co-operate in the movement to “capture or destroy Jackson and Ewell's forces,” and at once replied to the Secretary of War: “The President's order has been received — is in process of execution. This is a crushing blow to us.”

We have seen how Jackson eluded the snare set for him, beat his enemies in detail at Cross Keys and Port Republic, deceived them as to his plans, and hastened to obey the orders he received from General Lee to join him on the Chickahominy. This great commander, who had succeeded to the command of the army on the wounding of General Johnston at Seven Pines, had sent Stuart on his famous “ride around McClellan,” had discovered the weak point of his antagonist, and was thus prepared to strike so soon as Jackson should arrive at the designated point on the enemy's flank.

In his official report General McClellan seeks to make the impression that his movements during the seven days battles were simply a preconceived “change of base,” and a number of writers have adopted this theory and write as if Lee simply endeavored to prevent McClellan from fulfilling his purpose of moving to the James and was badly repulsed in all of his attacks.

Things did not look that way to an eye-witness and active participant in those stirring scenes, and I do not see how any fair-minded man can read McClellan's dispatches for several weeks before, during, and just after this “change of base” without seeing clearly that it was forced and not voluntary.

E. g. On June 25th he telegraphs to Washington:

The rebel force is stated at 200,000, including Jackson and Beauregard. I shall have to contend against vastly superior odds if these reports be true; but this army will do all in the power of men to hold their position and repulse any attack.

* * * Again: “June 27th, 1862, 3 P. M.--We have been fighting nearly all day against greatly superior numbers. We shall endeavor to hold our own, and if compelled to fall back shall do it in good order, upon James river if possible.” * * * [Italics mine.]

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