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[564] up the roads; the wagons, overloaded and drawn by wretched teams, moved on slowly, and on the 22d they had not proceeded beyond the village of Dumfries. It would have required three weeks to reach Falmouth at this rate of travelling. Captain Spaulding sent to Washington for a steamer, which came to meet him at the entrance of the Occoquan into the Potomac. Rafts were constructed, upon which were placed all the vehicles, as well as the rest of the materials, and the steamer, taking them in tow, brought them to Belle Plaine on the evening of the 24th. The animals, which had started at speed on the morning of the 23d, arrived there about the same time. On the 25th the three equipages, again placed upon the wagons, left Belle Plaine, and finally reached Falmouth. Burnside had been there for the last six days, and, what would seem incredible if he had not himself attested the fact, he was completely ignorant of the presence of the forty-eight boats at Belle Plaine, which he could have sent for and brought over by his wagons, and for which the carpenters connected with his army could easily have improvised in one or two days the flooring which was lacking.

The delay in the arrival of these pontons, which was attended by such fatal consequences to the Federals during the remainder of the campaign, is one of those questions, like many that are almost invariably started after an unsuccessful operation, concerning which controversies are still carried on to this day in America. We have entered into some details on this subject for the purpose of pointing out one among the thousands of difficulties that were calculated to cause the happiest combinations to miscarry during that war. From what we have just stated, it is evident in our judgment that every one concerned in that affair had his own share of responsibility. In the first place, Burnside was to blame for having made the success of his campaign depend upon a coincidence difficult to calculate upon; then, as he has himself acknowledged, for not having despatched an officer to Washington to superintend the sending of the pontons, in order to render such coincidence possible; finally, in not having discovered the presence of the boats that had been lying in the bay of Belle Plaine since the 18th, which he could have turned to account before the arrival of the rest of the equipages. Halleck altogether

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