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 of Petersburg,1 and proposed to him to seize it by crossing over to the south bank of the James. Once master of this point, he could cut the communications of Richmond with the south, and secure the fall of the capital without having to attack it in front. He was thus foreshadowing the plan followed precisely by Grant in the last campaign of the war; and when Halleck, according to his own statement, rejected it as dangerous and impracticable, he little foresaw the events which, two years later, so completely belied his predictions. The commander-in-chief, however, informed McClellan that the President authorized him to make a direct attack upon Richmond if a reinforcement of twenty thousand men would suffice him for that operation; otherwise, the army was to leave the peninsula and join Pope. After some hesitation McClellan declared himself ready to undertake the attack on those conditions; and while Burnside was returning to his troops for the purpose of bringing them over to him, he made active preparations for resuming the offensive.2 Nevertheless, while prosecuting this work, he could not help regretting the niggardly manner in which the forces placed at his disposal for this great enterprise had been measured, and he was too frank to conceal his regrets from his superiors. Writing to Halleck on the 26th to give him an account of the means of defence possessed by the enemy, he closed his communication in these terms: ‘Might not fifteen or twenty thousand men be withdrawn from the West to reinforce me temporarily? They should be returned on the day of the capture of Richmond. Please to take this suggestion into consideration; I am sure it is worthy of it.’ There is not a word in this despatch calculated to create the impression that McClellan had reconsidered his determination to attack Richmond with the only forces that had been promised him; but General Halleck made it a pretext to alter once more all the plans of campaign, and to obtain an order from the President that the army of the Potomac should be recalled to Aquia Creek. This decision was concealed from McClellan. On the 30th of July, he was ordered to
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