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of moving against the enemy, either by the way of the Rappahannock or the Peninsula. This reply explains the reason of his having so long delayed operations. His aim was to mass together a large army, thoroughly equipped and drilled, and leaving a sufficient force to guard Washington, throw the remainder of his army suddenly in the enemy's rear, or hurl them swiftly upon the rebel capital, before they could move to its support.
The President did not agree with his young General, as will be seen from the following communication, which he addressed him in reply:
“ EXECUTIVE MANSION,
“ WASHINGTON, February 3d, 1862. S “ MY DEAR SIR :—You and I have distinct and different plans for a inovement of the Army of the Potomac; yours to be down the Chesapeake, up the Rappahannock to Urbana, and across land to the terminus of the railroad on York river; mine to move directly to a point on the railroad south-west of Manassas. If you will give me satisfactory answers to the following questions, I shall gladly yield my plan to yours :
“ 1. Does not your plan involve a greatly larger expenditure of time and money than mine?
“ 2. Wherein is a victory more certain by your plan than mine?
“3. Wherein is a victory more valuable by your plan than mine?
66 4. In fact, would it not be less valuable in this
YIELDS TO HIS YOUNG GENERAL.
— that it would break no great line of the enemy's communication, which mine would ?
“5. In case of disaster, would not a safe retreat be more difficult by your plan than by mine?
“ Yours, truly,
He afterwards, however, yielded to General McClellan. Thus affairs stood, until the first week in March, when the enemy were discovered to be retreating from Manassas, and the grand advance commenced.
ADVANCE OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Advance of the Army of the Potomac.—The Thirty-third taking
up the line of march.-Flint Hill.—General McClellan decides to move on Richmond by way of the Peninsula.—Embarkation of the Thirty-third at Alexandria.- Embarkation Scene.-Mount Vernon.—The Monitor.— Arrival at Fortress Monroe.-Agreeable change of the climate.-Hampton.-Reconnoisance to Watt's Creek.-Rebel Epistolary Literature.—Bathers shelled by the rebel gunboat Teaser.—Building a Redoubt.
On the 10th of March the Army of the Potomac unfurled its banners, and began the forward march. Comprised of legions of brave men perfected in discipline through long months of drill; supplied with everything pertaining to the material of war, and headed by a General the very mention of whose name inspired to deeds of daring — in this grand army were centred the Nation's hopes. The long delay was ended, the public pulse quickened, and with light heart and elastic step the volunteer moved away, confident that he moved to victory.
The Thirty-third took up their line of march at 31 o'clock in the morning, while a severe rain-storm was prevailing, which continued during the day, rendering the roads almost impassable. Four and a half hours were consumed in marching the distance of two miles, and many of the wagons were stuck fast CORPS COMMANDERS IN COUNCIL. 67 in the mud before reaching Lewinsville. The brigade encamped the first night at Flint Hill, on an abandoned rebel site, having marched ten miles. The men, weary, hungry, foot sore, and wet to the skin, hailed with feelings such as they had never before experienced, the orders to “halt, stack arms, and encamp for the night.” The division remained in this locality four days, being again reviewed by their commander.
It was here that the men began to learn, for the first time, to their chagrin and mortification, that the enemy had retreated southward. After beleaguering the capital, blockading the river, and keeping our army at bay for more than six months, they had quietly absconded, taking everything with them.
Fairfax Court House. About this time, March 13th, General McClellan convened a council of his Corps Commanders at
Fairfax Court House, informing them that he had previously determined on moving forward towards Richmond by the way of the Rappahannock; but further deliberation had led him to abandon this route for the one via Fortress Monroe. Thereupon every preparation was made for transferring the scene of operations to the Peninsula. The larger portion of the army had proceeded no further in the direction of Manassas than the Court House. A small force, however, had advanced to the Rappahannock, ascertaining that the country was clear of rebels to that river.
On the 15th of the month General Smith's division resumed the line of march, and passing through
Embarkation at Alexandria. Fairfax, encamped at Cloud's Mills, near Alexandria. The Thirty-third remained here along with other