The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln: An Essay

By Colin R. Ballard | Go to book overview
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SECOND BULL RUN

McClellan took some credit to himself for'saving the army', but these three words are sufficient to show that the Peninsular Scheme had failed. Its object had been to take Richmond, purely offensive; during the Seven Days McClellan had fought on the defensive, and, however much credit was due to him and his gallant men for the fighting, the fact remained that he ended up sixteen miles farther away from his goal.

His spirits soon recovered. His own view was that the 'defence of Washington lay on the banks of the James': heavy reinforcements should be sent him at once; there was still a possibility of taking Richmond, in fact, even on June 28th he wrote : 'Had I 20,000 or even 10,000 fresh troops to use tomorrow, I could take Richmond': at all events he could prevent the Confederates from taking their troops away for use elsewhere.

There was something to be said in favour of this. Indeed, if the actual figures are taken there is much to be said. The Confederates had 65,000 left. The Army of the Potomac had 90,000; and there were 20,000 reinforcements available. But as usual McClellan spoilt the sum by persistent iteration that the Confederates had 200,000. Lincoln, no doubt, saw that such figures could not be true, but also saw that while McClellan believed in them he would not attack. From the military point of view it was necessary to come to an immediate decision, and there were two courses open.

First : Withdraw all troops from the Peninsula back

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