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[89] James by crossing White Oak Swamp, or, if a favorable opportunity offered, even take advantage of Lee's eccentric movement to march direct upon Richmond, and enter that city before him. Once established on the James, he was free to reascend this river in order to attack the Confederate capital, or to cross it to undertake a new campaign on the south side with greater chances of success. He could thus thrust after parrying; and if overwhelmed by numbers, he would at least have frustrated the combinations upon which his opponent seemed to rely for crushing him. It was necessary above all to secure to the army the means for subsisting and fighting, during the time it would be deprived of communications with its stores. The wagons of the several corps were loaded with eight days rations and a large quantity of ammunition. A drove of two thousand five hundred head of cattle was collected together and parked under the shade of the beautiful foliage which gives the borders of the Chickahominy the appearance of an English garden. At the same time, the wounded, the sick, the lame and all the non-combatants (bouches inutiles) were sent to White House. The vast stores which had accumulated there were hastily reshipped, and several vessels loaded with provisions were already proceeding down York River, with directions to await further instructions at the entrance of the James. The execution of these measures, which had begun amid the silence of the night of the 25th-26th, was continued during the two succeeding days, despite the noise and turmoil of conflicts. From that moment the army of the Potomac, able to depend upon its own resources for a whole week, resembled a ship which, with its cargo and ballast on board, is only fastened to her mooring by a slender rope. It was destined to encounter many storms before casting anchor on the banks of James River. To venture thus with an army of more than one hundred thousand volunteers into a series of operations, in the midst of which, whether victorious or vanquished, it was destined for some time to see its communications cut by the enemy, was certainly one of the boldest resolutions which can be adopted by a general in war. It was in singular contrast with the circumspection which had hitherto characterized all the movements of the Federals; but despite appearances, it was the less dangerous

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