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[120] Clellan did in impressing his on the cabinet at Washington. Nevertheless, in accordance with his counsels, the abandonment of Norfolk was ordered; and General Huger, after destroying the dockyards and removing the stores, evacuated that place on the 10th of May, and withdrew its garrison to unite with the army in front of Richmond. On the next day it was occupied by a Union force, led by General Wool, from Fortress Monroe. One important consequence of the evacuation of Norfolk was the destruction of the Merrimac, which vessel proving to have too great a draft of water to proceed up the James to Richmond, was on the following day blown up by order of her commander, Commodore Tatnall. This at once opened the river to the advance of the Union gunboats; and immediately afterwards a fleet, composed of the Monitor, Galena, Aroostook, Port Royal, and Naugatuck, under Commodore Rodgers, ascended the James, with the view of opening the water highway to Richmond. Within twelve miles of the city, however, the vessels were arrested by the guns of Fort Darling, on Drury's Bluff, and after a four hours engagement, in which the Galena received severe damage, and the one-hundred-pounder Parrott on the Naugatuck was burst, the fleet was compelled to withdraw.

It was not these events, however, that determined Mc-Clellan's line of advance on Richmond by the York rather than by the James; for the former course had already been dictated to him by antecedent circumstances. Before the destruction of the Merrimac had opened the opportunity of swinging across to the James, the army was already well en route by the York and Pamunkey, under injunctions to push forward on that line for the purpose of uniting with a column under McDowell, which was about to move from Fredericksburg towards Richmond. As this circumstance exercised a controlling influence on the campaign, and powerfully affected its character and results, I shall enter into its exposition at some length in the succeeding chapter.

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