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[32] commanded by the intrepid Rogers, persisted in her efforts for a considerable length of time; but she finally withdrew, after having experienced severe losses and without having done any damage to her adversaries. The advantage of elevated positions in defending a river, which had already been demonstrated at Fort Donelson, in this instance received a new and striking confirmation.

Thus the James River, which had been closed until then by the presence of the Virginia, as York River had been by the cannon of Yorktown, was opened by the destruction of that ship, just as York River had been by the evacuation of the Confederate fortress. But it was only open as far as Drury's Bluff; in order to overcome this last obstacle interposed between Richmond and the Federal gunboats, the support of the land-forces was necessary.

On the 19th of May, Commodore Goldsborough had a conference with General McClellan regarding the means to be employed for removing that obstacle. The headquarters were at Tunstall's station, on the railway from West Point and Richmond. The whole army was placed en echelon within reach of this road, between the Pamunky and the Chickahominy. The latter river had been struck at Bottom's Bridge, over which the old mail route from Williamsburg to Richmond passes. The enemy had not disputed its passage. Only a few cavalry pickets had been seen. He was evidently reserving his entire force for the defence of the immediate approaches to his capital. General McClellan, as we have stated above, might have continued to follow the railway line, and preserved his depots at White House on the Pamunky, which would have led him to force the passage of the Chickahominy above Bottom's Bridge and attempt an attack upon Richmond on the north side; but he could also now go to re-establish his base of operations on James River, which the Virginia had hitherto prevented him from doing. By crossing the Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge, and at some of the fords situated lower down, between that bridge and the extreme point reached by the tide, he was sure of encountering no resistance. The army, by carrying in their wagons a sufficient quantity of provisions, could have reached the borders of the James in two or three days, where its transports would have preceded it. This flank march, effected

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