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[33] at a sufficient distance from the enemy and covered by a few demonstrations along the Upper Chickahominy, offered him great advantages without involving any risk. It enabled him to advance afterward as far as Richmond, by following the course of a navigable river, open at all times, instead of obtaining his supplies by railway, exposed to the attacks of the enemy; it avoided the formidable obstacles which the Chickahominy interposed on the north side, and by assaulting the city on the south side it threatened to separate it from the rest of the Confederacy.

But to adopt this plan McClellan should have been able to count upon an enlightened concurrence on the part of the government at Washington. Indeed, he could only have executed it by withdrawing the imaginary protection which his army was supposed to afford to the capital of the United States from a distance. Instead of recognizing the fact that the best way of defending the capital was to keep all the enemy's forces occupied elsewhere, the Federal authorities fancied that the safety of Washington depended on the position of the army of the Potomac before Richmond. Impressed with this idea, they offered McClellan important reinforcements, provided he would place himself to the north of the enemy's capital. The day before Goldsborough proposed to him to invest Richmond on the south, he had received a despatch from Mr. Lincoln informing him that McDowell's corps, reinforced and numbering nearly forty thousand men, was at last about to leave the banks of the Rappahannock to co-operate with him against Richmond. This corps, with a view to avoid enormous expenses, as well as for the purpose of covering Washington, instead of embarking, was to march directly southward, so as to form the right of the army of the Potomac. It was placed under the orders of McClellan, although an absurd restriction revealed the old mistrusts and fears, as we know, and did not permit the general-in-chief to separate it from the direct road from Richmond to Washington. In thus imposing upon McClellan the necessity of operating by way of the north, the President did not appreciate the advantages of a march along the line of the James, which Grant's last campaign so clearly demonstrated four years later. If McClellan could have foreseen how deceptive were the promises of reinforcement made to him at the time, he would undoubtedly

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