What might have been.
Again, it was a campaign similarly devised that had signally defeated McClellan
two years before.
The Confederates had fallen back to the immediate defences of the city, over a greater distance without an effort at decisive resistance, and then assumed a determined offensive, aided by Jackson
's wide-swinging flank movement.
, to disengage himself from the enemy in his front, had harder fighting to do than Beauregard
, with the reinforcements asked for, would have needed to dispose of Butler
; and then had to encounter more of the contingencies which in military affairs attend time and distance, before he could place himself in position for the supreme co-operative effort.
along the Chickahominy
, but a few hours were needed for Beauregard
, moving from Drewry
's to be in actual conflict upon his flank.
More than twenty years aftewards a distinguished military critic, General Wolseley
, of the British
army, in a study of the Virginia
campaign of 1864, said of Beauregard
's proposal: ‘As far as one can judge, it was then the scheme most likely to give a brilliant result. * * If vigorously carried out, there does not seem any reason to doubt that it would have been big with great results for the Confederacy
But the President
, commander in chief
of all the armies on the spot and in person, had decided.
It was the prerogative and responsibility of his high office.
promptly addressed himself to the work before him with the means assigned.
's Division from Richmond
reached him on the evening of the 15th and at daylight on the 16th the battle was delivered.