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[101] of Richmond. This, it will be seen, was fully accomplished by the help of the following chapter of accidents and just at the critical moment.

McDowell had been ordered to march as soon as he was joined by Shields's division. It arrived on May 22. Only one day was needed to equip it for the march to Richmond, but the loss of three days followed. Its artillery ammunition had been condemned by an inspector and a second day was lost, waiting for ammunition which had been delayed by the grounding of a schooner near Alexandria. Everything, however, was ready by the night of the 24th, and McDowell was anxious to march on Sunday, the 25th. But a third day's delay now ensued from Mr. Lincoln's superstitious feeling that his chances of success might be improved by showing some special regard for the Sabbath.

McDowell's official report says:1

‘I was now ready to march with over 40,000 men and over 100 pieces of artillery. Though I could have started, and would have started, Sunday, yet it was resolved not to march till Monday; this out of deference to the wishes of the President, who was with me at the time, having come down Friday night, and with the concurrence of the Secretary of War, on account of the day.’

When it is remembered that the distance to unite with McClellan could have been easily covered within three marches, one is impressed with the influence of small events upon great matters, especially when the small events involve the loss of time, even of hours. It has already been told how McDowell did actually start, but, having made only a part of a day's march, he was recalled, and sent after Jackson. Had he made even a full day, it is very doubtful if he would have been recalled.

On the morning of Sunday, the 25th, everything in Washington was serene. Those best posted, and in highest authority, confidently expected the early fall of Richmond, and had good reason for their expectations. Indeed, the New York Herald that morning had had a leader headed, ‘Fall of Richmond.’ By noon the papers were issuing extras headed, ‘Defeat of Banks, Washington in Danger.’ A volcanic eruption could scarcely have startled

1 O. R. 15, 282.

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