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[210] March, and on the 21st of that month, Gen. J. B. Magruder, in command of the Confederate front on the peninsula, reported the landing of large bodies of troops at Fortress Monroe, and asked for 30,000 men to meet the threatening invasion.

The sight of the departure of this great army alarmed Lincoln concerning the safety of the capital, and induced him to modify McClellan's plan of campaign by ordering, April 3d, that McDowell's corps should remain in front of Washington. On the 17th of May he was directed to advance to Fredericksburg, but keeping himself in position so he could be readily recalled to Washington, if necessary, to aid in its defense. McClellan objected to this arrangement, but was compelled to submit to it. McDowell appeared in front of the staunch old city on the Rappahannock near the close of May, when the Confederates, under General Holmes, fell back toward Richmond. Lincoln visited McDowell's camp, on the Stafford heights, May 23d, and it was then decided that McDowell should cross the Rappahannock on the 26th and march toward Richmond.

Fortunately for Virginia and the Confederacy, on the very day that McClellan was conferring at Fairfax Court House concerning a change of base and of plan of campaign, Gen. Robert E. Lee took command, under President Davis, of all the forces of the Confederacy, and, with characteristic energy and foresight, at once began preparations to meet the various oncoming Federal armies that were responding to the ‘on to Richmond’ demand of the North.

To meet the several Federal columns converging from the great outer circle, along which they had been gathering during the preceding eight months, the prospect for Lee, although he held the inner circle and the shorter lines of defense, was by no means reassuring, even to such a stout-hearted and self-reliant commander as himself. Huger, on his extreme right, held Norfolk with some 7,000 men, guarded in front by the ram Virginia, already famous for her 8th of March exploits and great naval victory in Hampton Roads; across Hampton Roads, Magruder was holding the peninsula, before Fortress Monroe and Hampton, with 11,000 men; Holmes held the Rappahannock, at Fredericksburg, with a brigade of 2,000; Johnston held the line of the upper Rappahannock

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