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There were seven campaigns under as many different commanders.
First. McDowell set out to follow the Orange and Alexandria Railway, but was defeated at Manassas in his first battle.
Second. McClellan set out from Fortress Monroe via the York River.
As we shall see, he had some success.
His advance was within six miles of Richmond when he was beaten at Gaines Mill.
He found a refuge on the James River, but his army was soon recalled to Washington.
Third. Pope, in August, 1862, follotox was the key to Richmond.
For it would force Lee to hold an exterior line of such enormous length — from the Chickahominy River to the south of Petersburg, nearly 30 miles — that it could not be long maintained.
As McClellan selected the York River line before the James River was opened (by the loss of Norfolk and of the ironclad Merrimac), he is entitled to the credit of having selected the best route available at the time.
After his retreat from Richmond, he very nearly had stumbled in