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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 47, Part 2 (Columbia)
Page 1306 Chapter LIX] OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA.

During his retreat General Johnston telegraphed to Richmond to ask at what point he should stop, and afterward admitted on conference the same want of topographical information previously confessed. When the enemy, instead of pursuing General Johnston in his rapid retrat, changed their base to Fortress Monroe, and made the York River and the Peninsula their line of approach, he was ordered to Yorktown with his army, where General Mhruder had for many months been actively constructing defensive works to resist and advance up the Peninsula. General Johnston soon pronounced the position untenable, and made another hasty retreat, and with another heavy loss of munitions and armament. He gave notice of his movement, and of the necessity of evacuating Norfolk to the general in command there only after his own retreat had actully commenced. The Secretaries of War and of the Navy had started (the former to Yorktown, the latter no Norfolk) to prevent a hurried evacuation and the consequent loss of the material of war. Too late to restrain General Juhnston, they arrived in Norfolk in time to delay General Huger's compliance with his notice until much valuable property was saved. But Norfolk could not long be held after the Peninsula was in the hands of the enemyre lost large supplies of all konds, including machinery which could not be replaced in the Confederaey.

General Juhnston halted in his retreat near the Chickahominy, but after spending some days in selecting a position for defense against the advancing enemy, suddenly crossed that steam without notice to the Government and retreated upon Richmond. H remained inactive in front of Richmnond, making no intrenchment to cover his position, which mihth anable him to assume the offensive with the greater part of the army. He again neglected the proper reconnaissances, and failed to have the roas laid down on topographical maps-a want of foresight sorely felt by our army, afterward, under General Lee, endeavorint to cut McClellan's retreat. He suffered the enemy to bring up their heavy guns, suplies, and troops, without molestation:

to build bridges across the Chickahominy, and to cross a portion of their army and make intrenchments, not only without resistance, but without his knowledge of these important military operations,. When, on a sudden freshet in the Chickahominy, a body of the enemy's troops was found to be on this side of the stream, an attack was made under the impression that they were cut off by the flood from re-enforcements and entirely at our mercy. The battle was disastous, because the enemy was rapidly re-enforcedacross bridges the exitenceof which had not been ascertained by our commander, and because our troops attacked an enemy whom they did not know to be intrenched, and assailed the front of a position which might have been easily turned by cross roads which were in constant use by the people of the neighborhood, but which were unknown to our officers. The general fell severely wounded in this engagement, in which he was conspicous, for personal daring. But this gallantry could not redeem the want of that foresight which is requisite for a commandere, and the battle was, as I have said, a failure. His wound rendered him unfit for further service m the field for some months, and terminated his first important command, which he had administred in a manner to impair my confidence in his fitness to conduct a campaign for a Government possessed of only very limited material resources, and whose armies are numerieally so inferior to those of the enemy as to demand from its generals the greatest vigilance and activi, the best discipline and organization, with careful provision and rigid economy. The loss of supplies


Page 1306 Chapter LIX] OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 47, Part 2 (Columbia)
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