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[569] would, however, be unjust to blame him for having allowed this fleeting opportunity to escape him, for he was not sufficiently well informed to have ascertained the exact position of Jackson on the 25th or 26th, and a fortunate chance could alone have enabled him to take advantage of it. Lee's whole army was, therefore, reunited in front of him; and instead of reaching Fredericksburg before it, he had only succeeded in securing to the adversary he desired to attack the protection of a formidable obstacle. The difficulties of his positions were daily increasing. The weather was frightful; and but for the extraordinary efforts of General Haupt, whose name we have mentioned at a period when he did not yet occupy a military position, to put the Aquia Creek Railroad in running order, the army could not have continued to subsist at Falmouth. In six days he had rebuilt a viaduct, one hundred and twenty metres in length and twenty metres high, over the deep ravine through which Potomac Creek runs. This magnificent work, which was four stories high, containing two millions of feet or forty thousand cubic metres of timber, was remarkably strong; more than twenty trains heavily loaded passed over it daily, and it withstood all the winter freshets.1

In the estimation of those who took a calm view of the matter, a campaign in this section of Virginia was absolutely impossible before the month of April. The enemy might be attacked if he awaited such an attack without stirring, but it would be impossible to follow him even after the most decided victory. Only two alternatives, therefore, presented themselves; either to put the army into winter quarters between Falmouth and Aquia Creek, or to convey it to the James in order to attack Richmond by following this river, which was open at all seasons. But Burnside had been selected to supersede McClellan, and the censure which had been twice bestowed upon the latter had special reference to his inaction during the preceding winter, and the selection of Fortress Monroe as a base of operations in his campaign against Richmond. Burnside could not follow in the same wanderings without disobeying the orders he had received directing him to

1 This viaduct had been constructed before, in May, 1862, on the same plan and within the same space of time, when McDowell occupied Fredericksburg, and was destroyed in August during Pope's campaign.

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