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.
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
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
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
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
'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
intended to try the Peninsula
route, and orders were given to begin the transfer of Johnston
's army from the Rappahannock
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.
's line stretched across the Peninsula
to Mulberry Point
on the James