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[249] the decisive word, informing McClellan that his army must return to Aquia Creek. The latter protested in vain, in behalf of the national welfare, against such a disastrous measure; in vain did he represent that his army, strongly posted on a river, was only about fifteen miles from Richmond, and that the proposed movement would involve a march of seventy miles, followed by a difficult embarkation, then a water transit ending in a debarkation equally laborious, and that it would find itself at the last at a distance of seventy-five miles from the enemy's capital, in the midst of a region destitute of water communications. These wise counsels had no effect; Halleck insisted upon the prompt execution of his order, more injurious to the Federal cause, it may be said, than the greatest of the defeats we shall have to recount. From that moment McClellan thought of nothing but to organize the transportation of his immense materiel with the insufficient means at his disposal. Hooker was recalled from Malvern Hill as soon as he was convinced that the enemy could not harass his march. It was decided that the army should retire from Harrison's to Fort Monroe by land. A portion of the artillery and cavalry, which had been embarked in haste, was forwarded directly to Aquia Creek, where Burnside had preceded it. Such were the preparations which occupied the Federal troops up to the 8th of August. For the last four days McClellan had been at work in hastening their completion with as much zeal as if he had approved of the order he was obeying; but no human power could prevent delays in such a delicate operation, and it was calculated that it would require at least three weeks to enable the whole army of the Potomac to land and be again in condition to take the field.

While the destination of this army gave rise to so much anxiety, Pope was reorganizing and concentrating his own. He knew that Jackson, on leaving the valley of Virginia in the middle of June, had announced his intention of reappearing in those regions at the end of one month, and the inhabitants awaited his return with implicit confidence. Everything indicated that the Confederate general would not fail to be there at the time specified. Pope made his dispositions to close the entrance of the valley against him.

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