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594

UNION AND FEDERAL FORCES.

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dred and thirty-eight. The Confederate forces at this time. Jackson being absent in the Shenandoah valley, are now known to have been not over ninety thousand men, and adding Jackson's force, which the Prince de Joinville estimates at thirty thousand, certainly not below the truth, the whole number on the 30th of June, did not exceed one hundred and twenty thousand, the greater part of them raw troops. Gen. McClellan, in his dispatch of the 25th of June, to the Secretary of War, estimated their number at two hundred thousand.

But if the Union commander was apprehensive of the result of energetic measures, the rebel General Lee, who had succeeded Johnston, was not. Several days were required to recover from the panic and demoralization which followed the battle of Fair Oaks, but on the 8th of June, the rebel General J. E. B. Stuart, who had already acquired some fame as a partisan leader, left Richmond with a force of about fifteen hundred cavalry and two pieces of flying artillery, and in a little more than three days captured Hanover Court House, passed on to Tunstall Station, destroying commissary and quartermaster's stores, taking prisoners and horses, and sending them to the rear, thence to White House, where he made prizes of medical supplies, and burned two vessels and several wagons laden with stores, took some prisoners, and appeased the hunger of his troops from some sutler's stores, and finally having passed completely around the Union army, reached the banks of the Chickahominy, ten or twelve miles below the railroad, and repairing an old bridge, crossed in safety with his plunder, and rejoined the rebel army. This audacious feat was of great service to the rebels, raising their spirits, and furnishing them with medical stores, of which they had been greatly in need ; at the same time it exerted a depressing influence upon the Union commanders, since it demonstrated the weakness of their right wing, and the ease with which their communication with their base could be interrupted.

DELAYS— MCCLELLAN'S HOPES AND FEARS.

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The three weeks succeeding the battle of Fair Oaks, were spent by the Union army in perfecting the bridges across the Chickabominy, and in constructing fortifications along the whole lines. Only a part of the army actually crossed the Chickahominy, but the communications were such that upon emergency a crossing could be effected without difficulty. The Union commander, though at first inclined to attack Richmond, presently began to speak of his expectation of being attacked, and to ask for more troops ; Gen. McCall's division from McDowell's corps were sent to him, about nine thousand or ten thousand men, and it was expected that the remainder of that corps would go, but subsequent events prevented.

It was reported about the 18th of June, that ten thousand men had left Richmond to re-enforce Jackson, who seemed to be contemplating another movement into the valley of the Shenandoah, and on that day Gen. McClellan telegraphed to the President, “After to-morrow we shall fight the rebel army as soon as Providence will permit.” The enemy did not attack, however, being disposed to wait for the additional troops which were now coming in daily, and which bid fair soon to equal those of the Union force. On the 25th of June, Gen. McClellan telegraphed the President in a despondent tone: he expected to be attacked on the morrow, learned that the enemy had two hundred thousand men, and were commanded by Jackson and Beauregard. The latter was, at this time, and for some months afterward, in Alabama, and without a command, while Gen. McClellan seems to have had no knowledge of Lee, the ablest of the rebel Generals. He regrets his great inferiority of numbers, but feels that he is in no way responsible for it; he will do all that a General can do with the splendid army he has the honor to command, and if it is destroyed by overwhelming numbers, he can at least die with it and share its fate. But if the result of the action which will occur to-morrow, or within a short time, is a dis

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aster, the responsibility cannot be thrown on his shoulders ; it must rest where it belongs. The President, in his reply, very properly rebuked this querulousness and disposition to shirk the responsibility, declaring what Gen. McClellan subsequently admitted to be true, "I give you all I can, and uct on the presumption that you will do the best you can with what you have;

I have omitted, I shall omit, no opportunity to send you re-enforcements, whenever I possibly can.”

The day on which this telegram was sent, there had been a sharp affair between Hooker's division, which occupied the advance near Fair Oaks Station, and the rebel advance, for the possession of a piece of woods lying between the pickets of the two opposing forces. Both sides had fought with great obstinacy, but in the end, the Union troops held the disputed territory, though with a loss of six hundred and forty in killed and wounded. The intelligence which had been received that afternoon by the commander-in-chief, through contrabands and deserters, that Jackson was moving down on Hanover Court House with a force of twenty-five or thirty thousand, led him to withdraw Hooker from the advance position he had gained with such desperate fighting, and prompted the desponding despatch we have quoted. Taking counsel of his fears, Gen. McClellan had, some days before, directed a part of his stores to be sent from White House to the James River ; he now began to consider the feasibility of retreating with his entire army across the Peninsula, and making some point on the James river his base. He would indeed raise the siege of Richmond, which had never been very close or effective, by this movement, and place himself at a greater distance from Washington, but if he were largely re-enforced, he might attack Petersburg and Richmond from the south-east, and, at all events, the position protected by the gun-boats would be safe.

THE DILEMMA

APPALLING DIFFICULTIES.

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enemy.

To remain where he was, or move forward and give battle to the two armies-Jackson's and Lee's, which threatened him, seemed to him, with his exaggerated idea of their numbers, to be little else than rushing on destruction ; to change his base in face of the enemy, was little less hazardous, and could only be successfully accomplished by deceiving the The distance from Savage's Station, which might be reckoned as the central point of his camps, — to the James river, was only seventeen miles, but the entire retreat must, so far as was then known, be conducted over a single road leading through White Oak Swamp, and several roads leading from Richmond or points near it, intersected this road at right angles, and would thus endanger the passage of the immense trains of the army along this line. The vast collection of stores at White House, the immense quantities of ammunition, and the long trains of artillery with which this army was more munificently provided than any army of modern times, must all be conducted over this single narrow road, and if possible, without the knowledge of the shrewd and enterprising foe. The task was an appalling one, and it is not surprising that the commanding General was depressed at the thought of such an undertaking.

His first movement was to send Gen. Stoneman with a body of cavalry, and Gen, Casey with a small infantry force, to White House, to hasten the removal of the stores from that point, and at the same time, by feints of attack on the rebel forces, to divert their attention from his real purpose. The large army corps of Fitz John Porter, and a body of about five thousand regular troops, not far from thirty-five thousand in all, occupied a position on the north or left bank of the Chickahominy, the remainder of the army were on the south side of that river, and their trains, with that of Porter's, were collected on the 26th and the morning of the 27th, and despatched toward the James, in advance of the troops.

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THE RETREAT -BATTLE OF BEAVER DAM.

Gen. McCall, who commanded the Pennsylvania Reserves, attached for the time to Porter's corps, was in a strong position at Beaver Dam, near Mechanicsville, and on the 26th of June, about noon, he was assailed, as Gen. McClellan had desired, by four divisions of the enemy, A. P. Hill's, D. H. Hill's, Longstreet's, and Anderson's, on his right flank. Reserves had been placed within supporting distance, and the battle, which lasted till nearly ten o'clock at night, was a severe one, the enemy being finally repulsed, after repeated and desperate attempts to take McCall's position. It was mainly an artillery fight, and the Union cannon having a longer range, and being of heavier metal than those of the rebels, inflicted fearful slaughter upon them, while McCall's troops, protected by their intrenchments, met with a comparatively small loss. The rebel loss was said to be over three thousand killed, wounded, and prisoners, and for some hours there was considerable panic in Richmond, lest the Union troops should capture the city. McCall's loss was only eighty killed, and less than one hundred and fifty wounded. During the night, Gen. McClellan ordered Gen. McCall to fall back, and take up a new position in front of the military bridges over the Chickahominy, in anticipation of an attack which he expected on the next day,Friday, June 27th. By day-light on Friday morning, Gen. McCall had taken a position in the rear of Dr. Gaines' Mill, and in front of Woodbury's Bridge. Gen. Morell occupied the centre, at the right of McCall, whose force formed the left wing, as it was drawn up in line of battle, and Sykes' five thousand regulars, and Duryea's Zouaves held the extreme right, extending to the hills near the New Kent road. Slocum’s division, about eight thousand strong, was moved to the right bank of the river to support Porter's corps.

About one o'clock P. M., the enemy commenced the attack, by skirmishing with Griffin's brigade, in front of Gaines' Mill; that brigade advancing, pressed back the foe, and brought on

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