In the condition of the roads at that time this march could not have been made with artillery in less than two days, by which time the enemy would have been secure within this intrenchments around Richmond. In short, the idea of uniting the two wings of the army in time to make a vigorous pursuit of the enemy, with the prospect of overtaking him before he reached Richmond, only 5 miles distant from the field of battle, is simply absurd, and was, I presume, never for a moment seriously entertained by any one connected with the Army of the Potomac. An advance, involving the separation of the two wings by the impassable Chickahominy, would have exposed each to defeat in detail. Therefore I held the position already gained and completed our crossings as rapidly as possible.
In the mean time the troops at Fair Oaks were directed to strengthen their position by a strong line of intrenchments, which protected them while the bridges were being built, gave security to the trains, liberated a larger fighting force, and offered a safer retreat in the event of disaster.
On the 2nd of June I sent the following dispatch:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, New Bridge, June 2, 1862-10.30 a. m.
Our left is everywhere advanced considerably beyond the positions it occupied before the battle. I am in strong hopes that the Chickahominy will fall sufficiently to enable me to cross the right. We have had a terrible time with our communications-bridges and causeways, built with great care, having been washed away by the sudden freshest, leaving us almost cut off from communication. All that human labor can do is being done to accomplish our purpose.
Please regard the portion of this relating to condition of Chickahominy as confidential, as it would be serious if the enemy were aware of it. I do not yet know our loss; it has been very heavy on both sides, as the fighting was desperate. Our victory complete. I expect still more fighting before we reach Richmond.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
On the same day I received the following from the Secretary of War:
WASHINGTON, June 2, 1862.
Your telegram has been received, and we are greatly rejoiced at your success-not only in itself, but because of the dauntless spirit and courage it displays in your troops. You have received, of course, the order made yesterday in respect to Fortress Monroe. The object was to place at your command the disposable force of that department. The indications are that Fremont or McDowell will fight Jackson to-day, and as soon as he is disposed of another large body of troops will be at your service.
The intelligence from Halleck shows that the rebels are fleeing, and pursued in force, from Corinth. All interest now centers in your operations, and full confidence is entertained of your brilliant and glorious success.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
On the 3rd I received the following from the President:
WASHINGTON, June 3, 1862.
With these continuous rains I am very anxious about the Chickahominy-so close in your rear and crossing your line of communication. Please look to it.