In the first part of the year 1862, the Federal Government
, with plans fully matured, had under arms about six hundred thousand men; more than one-third of whom were operating in the direction of Richmond
What Gen. McClellan
himself said of the vast and brilliant army with which he designed to capture the Confederate
capital was not extravagant.
It was, indeed, “magnificent in material, admirable in discipline and instruction, excellently equipped and armed.”
On March 1, 1862, the number of Federal troops in and about Washington
had increased to 193,142, fit for duty, with a grand aggregate of 221,987.
Such was the heavy and perilous force of the enemy that, in the spring of 1862, hung on the northern frontier of Virginia
Let us see what was in front of it on the Confederate
line of defence.
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
had in the camps of Centreville
and Manassas less than thirty thousand men
. These figures are from an official source.
had been detached with eleven skeleton regiments to amuse the enemy in the Shenandoah Valley, passing rapidly between Banks
, and giving them the idea that he meditated a formidable movement.
Such was the force that in North Virginia
stood in McClellan's path, and deterred him from a blow that at that time might have been fatal to the Southern Confederacy.
It had been the idea of the Washington
authorities to despatch the Confederacy
by a combined movement in the winter.
The order of President Lincoln
for a general movement of the land and naval forces against the Confederate
positions on the 22d of February (Washington
's birthday), directed that McClellan
's army should advance for the immediate object of seizing and occupying a point upon the railroad southwest of Manassas Junction
urged a different line of operations on the Lower Rappahannock
, obtained delay, and did not advance.
In the mean time, Gen. Johnston
had not been an idle spectator of the immense and overwhelming preparations of the enemy in his front.
As a commander he was sagacious, quick to apprehend, and had that peculiar military reticence in connection with a sage manner and decisive action, that obtained the confidence of his men instead of exciting criticism, or alarming their suspicions.
In the first winter months of 1862, he had determined to change his line on the Potomac
All idea of offensive operations on it had long ago been abandoned.
It had become necessary in Gen. Johnston
's opinion that the main body of the Confederate forces in Virginia
should be in supporting distance of the Army of the Peninsula, so that, in the event of either being driven back, they might combine for final resistance before Richmond
During winter, Johnston
had been quietly transporting his immense stores towards the Rappahannock
, removing every cannon that could be