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[63]

But it was further on, between that time and the advance upon Richmond by General McClellan through the Peninsula, when Magruder's broad, brilliant, and versatile capacities as a strategist were most signally shown. Exposed every hour of every day and night to attack, either from James river, but seven miles away on the south of him, or from York river, washing against the very feet of his camp at Yorktown, on the north of him, or, as it might have been, from both sides simultaneously; with an army inadequate in numbers to the defence of his position from one-fifth of the force finally sent against it; with good reason to be expecting another formidable assault at any moment straight in his front from the gathering thousands and tens of thousands of well-appointed troops ever rendezvousing at Fortress Monroe, only twenty-seven miles off—it truly required a man ‘not in the common roll of men’ to suit the situation. Magruder proved himself to be such a man. Anon McClellan came with his mighty host, a splendid army of more than a hundred thousand men, as well appointed, perhaps, as any army the world had ever seen. And George B. McClellan himself, intellectually gifted, with the best of scientific training and observation, and experienced in war, was a chieftain to inspire any opponent with an anxious sense of the necessity for all possible energy and ingenuity to thwart him. Magruder now rose to the full height of his highest individuality, both as a man and a soldier. Painfully aware of the utter inadequacy of his own force and of the hourly frowning fact right in the face of him, that by the mere momentum of the enemy's stupendous strength the little Confederate army of not more than ten thousand men at Yorktown and around it could be borne away like thistle by the wind, General Magruder knew that he had nothing to rely upon except strategy and finesse to hold the opposing army at bay until relief in reinforcement could come to bar the route to Richmond and save the Confederate capital from easy capture. And strategy and finesse were never more brilliantly and successfully applied. It was absolutely necessary for McClellan to be outwitted—for him not to be allowed to know that the paucity of Magruder's numbers, in comparison with his own, really constituted little more than a cobweb in his way. It was necessary to delude and confound him. And all the arts and ingenuity, all the craft and activity, all the misleading demonstrations, all the false signals, all the marches

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George B. McClellan (4)
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