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[34] have declined the uncertain support of McDowell, to carry out the plan of campaign which offered the best chances of success with the troops which were absolutely at his disposal. But the formal assurances he was receiving did not permit him to pursue such a course, and he subordinated his movements to those which the President directed in person. The project of marching upon the James was abandoned, and the army, penetrating into a country bristling with obstacles, commenced a series of operations which only brought forth doubtful and dearly bought successes. Resting its left on Bottom's Bridge, which it already occupied, and deploying its right, it took a position higher up along the north side of the Chickahominy, to join hands with McDowell, whose arrival was long waited for in vain, but who never made his appearance.

This army had passed through the first ordeals of the war. It had worked in the presence of the enemy; it had fought; it had marched; it had shown itself laborious, patient, intelligent. In battle the soldiers had displayed great personal bravery and tenacity. It was owing to these qualities that the mismanagement of those in command at Williamsburg had not been productive of the fatal results that might have been apprehended. The regiments which had suffered most in battle, if temporarily disorganized, had promptly recovered their equanimity. On the march they had been less successful. It is true that the roads were few, narrow and in a bad condition; but this difficulty did not quite justify the extreme slowness of their movements and the confusion into which their columns were more than once thrown. The American soldier had yet much to learn in this respect; the history of the war will show that he became in the course of time, if not the equal of the best foot-soldiers in Europe, at least a sufficiently good marcher to undergo, when necessary, one of those long marches upon which the success of a battle frequently depends.

But before following the army of the Potomac any further, we must relate the events that were taking place in other parts of Virginia at the same time, and which were destined to exercise so great and so fatal an influence on its subsequent operations.


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