repeat themselves. We now know the state of disorganization and dismay in which the rebel army retreated. We now know that it could have been followed into Richmond. Had it been so, there would have been no resistance to overcome to bring over our right wing.
Although we did not then know all that we now do, it was obvious enough at that time that when the rebels struck a blow at our left wing they did not leave any means in their hands unused to secure success. It was obvious enough that they struck with their whole force, and yet we repulsed them in disorder with three-fifths of ours. We could have followed them up at the same time that we brought over the other two-fifths.
After it was known that McDowell was called off to another quarter there was no longer hope of an increase of force by the junction of his corps. There were no other re-enforcements to look for beyond what we received by the middle of the month of June. The rebel force was known or supposed to be constantly increasing by conscription, by the influx of troops from other parts, and by the breaking up of Beauregard's army.
At last a moment came when action was imperative. The enemy assumed the initiative, and we had warning of when and where he was to strike. Had Porter been withdrawn the night of the 26th, our army would have been concentrated on the right bank, while two corps, at least, of enemy's force were on the left bank. Whatever course we then took, whether to strike at Richmond and the portion of the enemy on the right bank or move at once for the James, we would have had a concentrated army and a fair chance of a brilliant result in the first place, and, in the second, if we accomplished nothing, we would have been in the same casein the morning of the 27th as we were on that of the 28th, minus a lost battle and a compulsory retreat,; or had the fortified lines (thrown up expressly for that object) been held by 20,000 men (as they could have been), we could have fought on the other side with 80,000 men instead of 27,000; or, finally, had the lines been abandoned, with our hold on the right bank of the Chickahominy we might have fought and crushed the enemy on the left bank, reopened our communication, and then returned and taken Richmond. As it was, the enemy fought with his whole force except enough left before our lines to keep up an appearance, and we fought with 27,000 men, losing the battle and 9,000 men. By this defeat we were driven from our position, our advance of conquest turned into a retreat for safety by a force probably not greatly superior to our own.
In view of the length of time which our operations before Richmond actually consumed, there is now no doubt that the depot at the White House should have been fortified, as well as one or two points on the railroad thence to the Chickahominy; that the tete-de-pont at Bottom's Bridge should have been completed, and likewise tetes-de-pont or strong positions prepared to cover the debouches from our bridges to the left bank of the Chickahominy. With these the army would have possessed freedom of motion and concentration on either side, and the disastrous battle of the 27th would scarcely have occurred.
When the army reached the James River it needed no prophet to predict the disasters which have since befallen our country's cause. If the army had sustained itself nobly it cannot be denied that so much fruitless toil and so much disaster had deprived it of the elan which results from success alone. It was, moreover (as well as our forces elsewhere), sadly diminished in numbers. On the other hand, the rebel army from its first low state had risen to be an army most formidable in numbers, excellent in organization, and inspired by a great success. Had its