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[68] to fight a defensive battle, thinking that this kind of fighting was better adapted to the character of their soldiers; they had been attacked, and, so far from coming off victorious, their left wing had been so crushed that Sumner's success afforded no compensation for the reverse. The Chickahominy was constantly rising, and it was easy to foresee that on the following morning all the new communications established by Sumner between the two wings of the army would be interrupted by the freshet. It was known that the enemy had not brought all his forces into action. There were more than sixty thousand men around Richmond and within reach of Fair Oaks. General McClellan thought there were eighty thousand. The Federal troops who were about to find themselves almost isolated on the right bank of the Chickahominy did not amount to forty-five thousand men, while one-third of them at least, disorganized by the great struggle of the 31st of May, would have found it difficult to come into line the day following.

This numerical inferiority should not have existed; and if the Confederates had cause to complain that some of their generals had compromised the success of their operations by not appearing on the field of battle or by arriving too late, the Federals had an equal right to say that the inaction of half their army had prevented them from turning the battle of Fair Oaks into a great victory. Sumner's success was sufficient proof of this. At the time when the latter was ordered to cross the Chickahominy, General McClellan felt how important it would be to support him by a movement of his whole right wing. From his headquarters at Gaines' Mill he could see the smoke, which rose above the treetops, tracing the undulations of the line of battle and marking the steady progress of the enemy. He had two army corps in hand; before him the Chickahominy, which, although swollen, was still passable; two bridges already in an advanced state of construction could be completed in a few hours; on the opposite hill, commanding the approaches to the river, no work had been erected by the enemy; only one or two regiments were seen moving about with suspicious ostentation along the most conspicuous points of the plateau. By leaving one division to guard the large park of artillery and the depots, McClellan could have crossed

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