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[77] moment was approaching when it would be in a condition to venture upon a decisive struggle, with better chances than at Fair Oaks. General Lee had assumed the command made vacant by Johnston's wound. His first efforts in the war had not been more brilliant than those of Grant, his future opponent, and he was personally but little known to the troops he was about to lead into battle. But his companions in the Mexican expedition had not forgotten the eminent services he had then rendered, notwithstanding his inferior rank. Since the outbreak of the civil war, the Confederate authorities had had occasion to appreciate his wisdom and clearness of judgment in matters connected with military affairs. His fellow-citizens of Virginia respected him as the representative of one of the first families of the most aristocratic of the American colonies. He was looked upon by all as a true type of the soldier and man of honor. The regrets even he had experienced in forsaking the Federal flag no longer injured him in the eyes of the public, for the moment of the first ebullitions had passed. Once upon the scene, he will no more leave it, and he will always play, if not the first, at least one of the first, parts. We shall always find him a patient, persevering and prudent calculator, yet ready to risk much at the opportune moment; handling a large army with great dexterity in the midst of the thickest forests; understanding men, selecting them carefully, and securing their attachment by his equity; worshiped by his soldiers, obtaining from them what no other chief could have thought of asking them; respected and obeyed by all his lieutenants; humane, of a conciliatory disposition, one whose only fault as a general was an excess of deference to the opinion of his subordinates, which at times caused him to lose a little of that firmness which is so indispensable in the midst of a battle. Such was the new adversary of General McClellan.

Since he had assumed command he had reorganized his army and gathered new combatants from every part of the Confederacy. The conscription law, which was in force, had filled up his cadres, mixing young soldiers with those whom the war had already trained. The scattering system, which had prevailed at first, was abandoned; the garrisons along the coast were reduced to their minimum or entirely suppressed, and most of the troops composing

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