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[87]

Without feeling under any obligations for kind intentions on the part of the government of the North, it was fortunate for us that it did, as its friend the Comte de Paris represents, deceive General McClellan, and prevent him from moving to the south side of James River, so as not only to secure the cooperation of his gunboats in an attack upon Richmond, but also to make his assault on the side least prepared for resistance, and where it would have been quite possible to cut our line of communication with the more Southern states on which we chiefly depended for supplies and for reenforcements.

It is hardly just to treat the failure to fulfill the assurance given by President Lincoln about reenforcements as ‘deceptive promises,’ for, as will be seen, the operations in the Valley by General Jackson, who there exhibited a rapidity of movement equal to the unyielding tenacity which had in the first great battle won for him the familiar name ‘Stonewall,’ had created such an alarm in Washington, as, if it had been better founded, would have justified the refusal to diminish the force held for the protection of their capital. Indeed, our cavalry, in observation near Fredericksburg, reported that on the 24th McDowell's troops started southward, but General Stuart found that night that they were returning. This indicated that the anticipated junction was not to be made, and of this the Prince de Joinville writes:

It needed only an effort of the will: the two armies were united, and the possession of Richmond certain! Alas! this effort was not made. I can not recall those fatal moments without a real sinking of the heart.1

General McClellan, in his testimony December 10, 1862, before the court martial in the Case of General McDowell, said:

I have no doubt, for it has ever been my opinion, that the Army of the Potomac would have taken Richmond had not the corps of General McDowell been separated from it. It is also my opinion that, had the command of General McDowell joined the Army of the Potomac in the month of May, by the way of Hanover Court-House, from Fredericksburg, we would have had Richmond within a week after the junction.2

Let us first inquire what was the size of this army so crippled for want of reenforcement, and then what the strength of that to which it was opposed. On April 30, 1862, the official report of McClellan's army gives the aggregate present for duty as 112,392;3 that of June 20th —omitting the army corps of General Dix, then, as previously, stationed at Fortress Monroe, and including General McCall's division, which had recently joined, the strength of which was reported to be 9,514—

1 Campaign on the Peninsula, Prince de Joinville, 1862.

2 Court martial of General McDowell, Washington, December 10, 1862.

3 ‘Report on the Conduct of the War,’ Part I, p. 322.

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