The battles before Richmond.
[From the London Times, July 11.]
The ‘"strategical motives"’ which have led a General to retire after an attack of the enemy from a position which he had occupied in order to make an assault upon his capital, are purely unintelligible.
It is quite obvious that a retrograde movement on the part of a besieging army means an untenable position, a confession of weakness, a measure of safety.
If the English
army before Delhi
had thrown then right beyond the Subsee Mundee
, and then had reined across it after two hard fights against a tle of the Sepoys, so that their right was obliged to double back and cover itself behind the left on the Junma, even our affection, our hopes, and our fears, could not deceive us into the belief that the retrograde movement was made in consequence of any premeditated strategy, and that the attack was an expected result which must lead to the strengthening of the new position.
If for a moment we take the Thames
as representing the James river
, and then imagine a deep and sluggish stream sweeping round the city from the northeast, so as to fall into the Thames
below Plaistow marshes, we may have a rough idea of the relation of the Chickahominy
with the James river
To the east of the Chickahominy
, thus represented, let us conceive a river flowing from the north west, at a distance of 12 miles from it, which is called the Pamunkey
, and which turns off eastward into the sea at some point on the coast of Essex
The Union General, having advanced between the James
and the latter river finds himself with the Chickahominy
in his front.
He throws a portion of his army across the river, and, having thus established his left, proceeds to pivot upon it, and to extend his right by the right bank of the Pamunkey
so as to get to the north of Richmond
Scarcely has he done so, when the enemy attack the left which had crossed the river Chickahominy
, inflict on it a severe defeat, take guns and prisoners, and only retire when McClellan
throws a large supporting force across the river.
A small cavalry razzle made by the enemy on his right sweeps round it, destroys commissariat vessels in the Pamunkey
, and encircling his whole army, crosses the Chickahominy
below his lett, and returns to the ‘"beleaguered city"’ The communications of the army so situated have been mainly dependent on the rivers and the sea, and while the General
has been preparing for an assault on the enemy, the corps on which he has relied for some demonstration on his extreme right are suddenly attacked by the Confederates
(so called from his tenacity in holding to an obstruction of that nature in his fight with Shields
last spring) and are chased across the Potomac
An active offensive movement in combination with Fremont
to fall back into the Valley of the Shenandoah
, but, suddenly turning to the east, he crosses the mountains and marches straight, with his victorious little army ‘"largely reinforced,"’ whether by Beauregard
's men or not it is impossible to say, and joins the Confederates
The presence of this dashing leader and his men seems to invigorate the Southern
On the 26th of June they direct an attack on the right wing of the Unionists between the Chickahominy
in heavy force.
Then comes official confusion.
‘"The Federals, by order of Gen. McClellan
, receded several miles, holly pursued"’ (and therefore running very hard) ‘"by the Confederates
."’ Two dayshard fighting led to the retreat of the whole of the Union
army to the other side of the Chickahominy
, so that they now lie massed between the river on their right and James river
on their left.
Now, their retreat has left open the whole of the country between the Chickahominy
and the Pamunkey
to the Confederates
and White House
have fallen into the enemy's hands, and the head of the York river
is once more their own. If McClellan
suddenly transported his army across the river, after menacing Richmond
on the north side, so as to lead the enemy to throw up works and to prepare for an attack on that quarter, leaving Richmond
, at the side resting on the James river
, comparatively weak, we might understand the strategy; but such a movement after a serious attack, hard fighting for two days or more, ‘heavy loss, "’ ‘"a hot pursuit"’ by the enemy, a contraction of lines is at least suspicious, strategically considered; and ‘"making"’ for the James river
looks like a severe reverse.
The proximity to Richmond
is gone — the menace of the lines is no more for if General McClellan
or his successor makes the James river
the base of operations the Union
army must drop down lower than Fort Darling
, unless their gunboats have worked through the obstructions, which has not yet been asserted.