But three short months had passed since the superbly organized and every way equipped army of the Potomac had begun its ‘on to Richmond
,’ but its every movement had been a failure.
, with a small force in hand, had with strategic power routed or demoralized and then left stranded in the Valley
60,000 of its best men, during a month and a half of this quarter of a year.
, and then J. E. Johnston
, had delayed and badly damaged the march of the main body, under the leadership of McClellan
in person, on the Peninsula
, keeping him back with fierce blows at Williamsburg
's landing, and by a bold front at Seven Pines
and Fair Oaks
, held him hesitating in sight of Richmond
, taking immediate command after the wounding of Johnston
, had gathered from all directions his scattered forces, hurled them fiercely upon Mc-Clellan's lines and intrenchments, and after seven days of fierce contention at Ellison's mill, Gaines' mill
, Charles City cross-roads and Malvern hill
, had driven him back, followed by dire disaster, and left him stranded on the banks of the James
with a loss of 16,000 men. The heroic struggles had cost Lee
20,000 of his brave Confederates, but had relieved his capital.
Calmly reviewing these stirring events, Lee
deliberately and honestly wrote: ‘Under ordinary circumstances, the Federal
army should have been destroyed.’
Seeking reasons why that result had not been accomplished, he found them in the ‘want of correct and timely information.’
This, attributable chiefly to the character of the country, but largely chargeable to the lack of trained staff organization, ‘enabled General McClellan
to skillfully conceal his retreat, and to add much to the obstructions with which Nature had beset the way of our pursuing columns; but regret that more was not accomplished gives way to gratitude to the Sovereign Ruler
of the universe for the results achieved.’
recalled these results to his army in a general order
of July 7th, in which he said:
The immediate fruits of our success are the relief of Richmond from a state of siege; the rout of the great army that so long menaced its safety; many thousand prisoners, including officers of high rank; the capture or destruction of stores to the value of millions; the acquisition of thousands of arms and forty pieces of artillery.
The service rendered to the country in this short but eventful period can scarcely be estimated, and the general commanding cannot adequately