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[195] possessed many advantages over all the others, Johnston expected his adversary to move by it, and therefore prepared to fall back behind the Rappahannock so that he might be ready to oppose an advance by way of Fredericksburg as well as be within reach should McClellan choose a more southerly line of approach. Johnston continued to maintain a bold front at Manassas, and by various ruses imposed greatly exaggerated notions of his strength upon McClellan to the last moment. To the latter's great surprise he quietly evacuated Manassas on March 9th.

This movement of the Confederate army somewhat deranged McClellan's plans. After long discussion, the latter had induced President Lincoln to agree to his plan of transporting the mass of his army to Urbana, on the lower Rappahannock, for an advance thence by way of West Point on Richmond. A main inducement to this plan was that the Federal army might by a rapid movement interpose itself between Richmond and General Johnston. With the Confederates behind the Rappahannock this last could no longer be hoped for, and General McClellan now had recourse to the alternative plan which he had kept in reserve (General Webb calls it a dernier ressort, p. 30) of making his base at Fortress Monroe and advancing thence up the Peninsula. The brilliant naval victory of the Virginia (March 8) in Hampton Roads closed the James for the time, but the Federal fleet in the lower Chesapeake was able to confine the formidable iron-clad to that river, and thus the bay and the York river up to Yorktown were open to the unmolested use of the Federal commander. By the first of April a large part of McClellan's army was at Fort Monroe and ready to go forward.

The closing weeks of March and the early ones of April were anxious ones to the Confederates. McClellan's great army was evidently on the move against Richmond, but from what point or points it would advance was for a time uncertain, and the utmost vigilance had to be exercised. The Confederate forces were fearfully inadequate, even when concentrated, and now they were scattered to guard many places. Early in April it became evident from the large number of troops that had landed at Fort Monroe that McClellan intended to try the Peninsula route, and orders were given to begin the transfer of Johnston's army from the Rappahannock to Yorktown. Meantime, to Magruder with 11,000 men was assigned the task of holding the Federal army in check until Johnston's forces could arrive. We believe that history records few operations more skilful or successful than those by which Magruder accomplished his task. Magruder's line stretched across the Peninsula from Yorktown to Mulberry Point on the James. With

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