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[74] latter could gather together the detachments he had sent forward in pursuit of Jackson. This promise, no less vain than that of the preceding year, was to exercise on the operations of the Federals against Richmond even a more baneful influence than the first breach of promise. Still afraid of exposing the capital, the President refused to send more than one division of McDowell's corps by water. In notifying McClellan that the other three divisions would proceed from Fredericksburg to rejoin him by land, he again requested him to be ready to communicate with them on the South Anna, and thus caused him to miss the opportunity to repair his delays and the mistakes he had been led to commit. He could, in fact, have taken advantage of the confusion into which the Confederates had been thrown by the battle of Fair Oaks, to seek the new base of operations on the James River, the advantage of which we have pointed out elsewhere. This movement, to which, three weeks later, it was necessary to resort for the purpose of saving the army, would have given very different results if it had been executed then with an offensive aim.

The enforced rest which followed the battle of Fair Oaks was prolonged by the bad weather for two distressing weeks. The Chickahominy, the overflow of which exceeded anything ever witnessed by the oldest inhabitants, carried away all the bridges, and for several days the six divisions, encamped on the right side of the river, only obtained their supplies by the railroad and the viaduct, whose frail scaffolding trembled above the flood. The ground, which consists of alternate layers of reddish clay and quicksand, was nothing more than a vast swamp, and the guns which had been ranged in battery near the camps gradually sunk into the earth, from which they could not be extricated. Every morning a scorching sun, shining upon this damp soil, and decomposing the dead bodies of men and horses, which the rain had again brought to the surface, filled the hot air with poisonous exhalations. Every evening thick clouds gathered, the lightning flashed, the heat became suffocating, and all night long rain fell in abundance, which still further increased the inundation.

The inactivity to which the two armies were thus condemned, however, did not partake of the qualities of refreshing rest. The Federals, as we have stated, would probably have achieved an

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