The American Iliad: The Epic Story of the Civil War as Narrated by Eyewitnesses and Contemporaries

By Otto Eisenschiml; Ralph Newman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
The South Strikes Back

THE SECOND BATTLE OF BULL RUN, OR MANASSAS

Following McClellan's retreat to Harrison's Landing, he immediately began laying plans for his next move. Undaunted by the misfortunes which had dogged his footsteps all spring, he made ready to renew his thrust against Richmond as soon as his troops had been rested and reinforced. With the James River at his back, he need no longer worry about his lines of communication and could concentrate his entire army in front, where it belonged.

His plans, as outlined by himself, were simple and promising.

When my troops reached the James, their first want was something to eat and drink, and the next a bath in the river.

A very few days sufficed to give the men the necessary rest, and the army was then in an admirable position for an offensive movement. It was at last upon its true line of operations, which I had been unable to adopt earlier in consequence of the Secretary of War's peremptory order of the eighteenth of May, requiring the right wing to establish communication with General McDowell. General McDowell never came because, in spite of his own earnest protest, his orders to join me had been countermanded from Washington.

Had the Army of the Potomac been permitted to remain on the James, I would have crossed to the south bank and made a rapid movement on Petersburg, having gained which, I would have operated against Richmond and its communications from the west, having already gained those from the south.

Washington and Maryland would have been entirely safe under the protection of the fortifications and the troops then in that vicinity, so

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