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 an unlooked — for opportunity offered for adopting another plan, which, although apparently more hazardous, promised, nevertheless, to be surer and more decisive. As we have said before, the Confederates had only deferred the evacuation of Yorktown in order to secure that of Norfolk. General Huger, who occupied that place with his division, had succeeded, like Magruder, in deceiving his adversaries in regard to his numerical weakness, and the Federal authorities had not dared to send Burnside's corps, then stationed at Roanoke Island, in North Carolina, against him. There is no doubt but that these troops would only have had to make a simple demonstration, without even going entirely through so difficult a country, to precipitate the evacuation of Norfolk, and thus deprive the Confederates of all the materiel which they had not yet been able to transfer to Richmond. As soon as Huger was informed of Johnston's retreat, he sent away all his troops, remaining almost alone in Norfolk, ready to destroy the docks, the workshops, the hulks and all that was left of the arsenal, as soon as the evacuation should be completed. This operation could have been speedily accomplished by water, thanks to the protection of the Virginia, which kept a watch at the entrance of the port. Her presence alone defended the Confederate transports ascending the James against the whole Union fleet. By the 8th of May, Huger had completed his final preparations for the work of destruction. Some fugitives immediately carried the news to Fortress Monroe. As we have already stated, old General Wool, who was in command of that place, was no longer under the orders of General McClellan, and the first use he had made of his independence had been to retain upon the glacis of the fortress the whole division which had occupied the extremity of the peninsula during the winter. When he saw the two hostile armies penetrate into Virginia after the battle of Williamsburg, he was desirous to give employment to these troops, but was afraid, at the same time, lest they should again be placed under the orders of McClellan, so that, instead of leading them into action by the side of their comrades in arms, he conceived the idea of making them gather cheap laurels among the ruins of the Norfolk arsenal. The occasion was the more
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