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 as to cover his depots at the White House, and the railroad through which he obtained his supplies. The faulty disposition of his army was therefore forced upon him by circumstances from the moment he had abandoned the idea of seeking a new base of operations on the James. We shall see presently how, in consequence of unforeseen accidents and too long delays, he remained in this dangerous position for more than a month. It was on the 24th of May that McDowell had received an order from the President's own mouth to march upon Richmond. The next day being Sunday, his departure was fixed for the 26th. He had a march of seventy-two kilometres before him between Fredericksburg and Richmond, through a difficult country, as Grant was to find out two years later, but in which, owing to the position occupied by McClellan before Richmond, the Confederates could not have offered any serious resistance to the Federals. This region has two railroads. One, running north and south, leads from Aquia Creek to Richmond, through Fredericksburg and Bowling Green, and crosses to the south of the latter town the two branches of the Pamunky, called the North Anna and the South Anna, near Jericho Bridge and Ashland. The other railroad, from Gordonsville, intersects the first between these two branches, and passing the second near Hanover Court-house crosses the Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge to enter Richmond more to east than the Aquia Creek road. The Confederates had placed Anderson at Bowling Green with twelve or fifteen thousand men for the purpose of holding Mc-Dowell in check, and Branch's division between the Chickahominy and Hanover Court-house, that it might be within reach of Richmond or Bowling Green, as circumstances should require. On announcing McDowell's departure, Mr. Lincoln requested General McClellan to make a movement on his right to cut the communications between Bowling Green and Richmond, and to seize the two railroad bridges on the South Anna, in order that he might the more easily assist the troops who were on their way from Fredericksburg. This order was promptly executed, and on the 25th, Stoneman's cavalry was at work destroying the Gordonsville railroad between Hanover Court-house and the Chickahominy. But on this very day the mirage which had attracted
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