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[561] does the Rapidan present any impediment of a more serious character beyond Culpepper, and the Confederate army would certainly have been obliged to retire to Gordonsville, an important railway junction, where it would undoubtedly have been difficult to follow it, without extending the line of communication to an excessive length, which could not be easily maintained. But the army could have advanced as far as the Rapidan; Pope had done so with inferior forces, and had only been dislodged from it owing to a succession of mistakes and blunders which it would have been difficult to repeat. After having driven the enemy as far as Gordonsville, McClellan had intended to march back upon Fredericksburg, either to embark at Aquia Creek with the best portion of his army, and attack Richmond by way of the James, or to march upon the capital of Virginia by way of Bowling Green.

Burnside's plan was to leave the enemy at Culpepper, keep on the left bank of the Rappahannock, descend the river as far as Falmouth in front of Fredericksburg, and crossing it at that point to take possession of Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg, therefore, was still the objective point; but McClellan, by driving the enemy to Gordonsville, and crossing the Rappahannock and its tributaries near their sources, would have had but one movement to make to the rear, to obtain possession of Fredericksburg, and perhaps of Bowling Green also, where he would have been halfway to Richmond. The result of Burnside's plan, on the contrary, would be to place a great obstacle between himself and the enemy, and to make the army march a very long distance, so as to reach one of the points where the river is most difficult to cross, in the vain hope of seizing it by surprise. This surprise was the more improbable because the bridge equipages of the army had been left at Berlin, where it had crossed the Potomac. It had been deemed useless, or perhaps impracticable, to drag them through the bogs of Virginia; in order to find them in readiness at Fredericksburg, they should have been sent to Aquia Creek by water, to be wagoned from thence to Falmouth. The success of this plan, therefore, required that the army should reach Falmouth on the same day that the pontons should be landed at Aquia Creek, and that the latter could be taken across the peninsula which at this

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