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Chapter 20:

In A previous chapter the retreat of our army from Centreville has been described, and reference has been made to the anticipation of the commanding general, J. E. Johnston, that the enemy would soon advance to attack that position. Since the close of the war we have gained information not at that time to us attainable, which shows that, as early as January 31, 1862, the commanding general of the enemy's forces presented to his President an argument against that line of operations, setting forth the advantages of a movement by water transports down the Chesapeake into the Rappahannock; that in the following February, by the direction of President Lincoln, General McClellan held a council with twelve of the generals of that army, who decided in favor of the movement by way of Annapolis, and thence to the Rappahannock, to which their President gave his assent. When General McClellan, then in the city of Washington, heard that our army had retired, he ordered a general movement of his troops toward the position we had lately occupied. A detachment was sent to make reconnaissance as far as the line of the Rappahannock, by which it was ascertained that our troops had passed beyond that river. His account of this movement was given in the following report:

Fairfax Court-House, March 11, 1862, 8:30 P. M.
I have just returned from a ride of more than forty miles. Have examined Centreville, Union Mills, Blackburn's Ford, etc. The rebels have left all their positions, and, from the information obtained during our ride to-day, I am satisfied that they have fallen behind the Rapidan, holding Fredericksburg and Gordonsville. Their movement from here was very sudden. They left many wagons, some caissons, clothing, ammunition, personal baggage, etc. Their winter-quarters were admirably constructed, many not yet quite finished. The works at Centreville are formidable; more so than at Manassas. Except the turnpike, the roads are horrible. The country entirely stripped of forage and provisions. Having fully consulted with General McDowell, I propose occupying

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George B. McClellan (5)
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