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and muddy plains, rendered almost impassable by the continuous rain. The enemy was sullen and defiant even in retreat, giving back only step by step, and under the pressure of superior numbers. General McClellan proved himself to be slow and unready in all his enterprises, preferring to fight defensive battles, instead of pushing the enemy away from his front by determined attacks. Even in success, he did not seem to understand the proper method of pressing an advantage. Another condition was the occupation of the enemy's attention at Charleston and in its neighborhood. But in the Department of South Carolina, little was doing towards a speedy termination of the attempt upon the stronghold of secession. In fact, the movement of our armies on the Atlantic seaboard seemed to depend altogether upon the success of General McClellan's The plan of the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac evidently was to have the armies at Newbern and Port Royal set in motion to cut off the enemy's retreat, when he should be driven out from Richmond. Until that most desirable consummation should be reached, the other movements were not to be expected. General McClellan and the Secretary of War had already written to General Burnside from Yorktown, that no offensive movement was to be made into the interior of North Carolina until the issue of the operations on the lower peninsula had been determined. When Yorktown was abandoned by the enemy, General McClellan hoped that the way would be opened to Richmond, and that he would have to fight but one decisive battle in front of the coveted point. The sharply contested fight at Williamsburg showed him that the enterprise was more difficult than he had supposed. He then began to feel that there were largely superior forces before him, and that they must be beaten before any successful operations could be made farther to the South. The most that could by any means be done would be simply a diversion, and the authorities in the field and at headquarters were undecided as to whether Winton, Weldon, or Goldsborough should be the objective point. In fact, the irresolution
and delay which prevailed in regard to affairs in Virginia, had their natural effect upon affairs in North Carolina, and General Burnside was in consequence restricted within the narrow limits of his conquests along the coast. But the chief condition of moving into the interior was a supply of transportation and cavalry for a march of sixty miles. General Burnside had thus far marched his troops and fought his battles without baggage or cavalry. There was scarcely a wagon in the Department, and, without means of transportation for his supplies and his sick and wounded soldiers, the march to Goldsborough could not be made. Colonel Mix's cavalry relieved the mounted artillery men in their picket duty, and supplied the deficiency which had previously existed in that arm of the service. It was not till nearly the middle of May, that cavalry, wagons, ambulances, cars and locomotives arrived in the Department for the purposes of a long campaign.
On the tenth of May, General Wool, stimulated by the presence of the President and the Secretaries of the Treasury and War, advanced from Fortress Monroe on Norfolk. The city surrendered, the rebel General Huger having withdrawn his command. On the eleventh, the rebels set fire to the Merrimac, and she was blown up and sunk near Sewall's Point. This event opened the James River as far as Drury's Bluff, the Elizabeth River and the canals between North Carolina and Norfolk to the undisputed possession of our naval and military forces. Had General McClellan immediately transferred his base of operations from the York River to the James and made an attack upon Petersburg, he would have changed the entire character of his campaign and indeed of the whole record of the summer of 1862 in Virginia. The perils of the Chickahominy swamps, the disastrous and bloody battles around Richmond, and the terrible scenes of the retreat to Harrison's Landing would have been avoided. Then General Burnside could have made a successful demonstration on Goldsborough, and it is safe to presume that the most brilliant and satisfactory results would have followed. Indeed, while General McClellan
was at Harrison's Landing, General Burnside suggested an attempt upon Petersburg. But then the opportunity had passed, and the baffled Army of the Potomac was not equal to such a
During the military operations in North Carolina the Government had steadily kept in view the political pacification of the State. With this end, communications had passed between the authorities at Washington and the Hon. Edward Stanley, once a member of Congress from North Carolina, and a popular and influential man there, but at this time resident in California. The correspondence culminated in his appointment as Military Governor of North Carolina. He arrived at Newbern on the 26th day of May, and General Burnside at once turned over to him the jurisdiction of all civil and political affairs, assuring him of the most cordial coöperation on the part of the military officers. It was a manifest relief to the commanding general, and whatever was the subsequent success of the experiment, it had the merit of having originated in a humane spirit and was conducted with good and patriotic intentions.
With the exception of Governor Stanley's arrival, the month of May was a comparatively quiet season in the Department. On the 14th the naval expedition visited Plymouth. The newly arrived troops were engaged in short expeditions into the neighboring country, in which Colonel Mix's cavalry bore a conspicuous part. The enemy made occasional dashes upon our outposts with indifferent results upon either side. Political events were of unimportant significance. The life of the camp was somewhat monotonous and dull. The most pleasing event of the month was the release of several hundred Union prisoners, in accordance with the cartel at Roanoke Island. Among these, General Burnside was glad to recognize and welcome several members of his old command, the First Rhode Island. The great exploits that were performing elsewhere-at New Orleans, on the Mississippi, in Tennessee-had no parallel on the Atlantic seaboard. Finally "Stonewall" Jackson's discomfiture and pursuit of General Banks down the Shenandoah
valley and across the Potomac disturbed the plans of General McClellan to such an extent, as to make the Peninsula campaign a decided and manifest failure. General Jackson's movements threatened Washington, caused considerable consternation at the War Office, shook General McDowell's position at Fredericksburg, and, at a later period, recoiled on General McClellan with disastrous effect. Our officers in North Carolina awaited the course of events-since they could do nothing more--with as much patience as was compatible with the circumstances of the case.
Another month of inaction followed. The monotony of life in North Carolina was somewhat varied by a smart engagement which took place at Tranter's Creek about ten miles from Washington on the 5th of June. Eight companies of the 24th Massachusetts under Lieutenant Colonel F. A. Osborn, a squadron of Colonel Mix's cavalry and a battery of two steel Wiard guns under Lieutenant William B. Avery, manned by twenty-five men of the Marines, constituted our force. The enemy had cavalry and infantry, was attacked boldly and received a severe punishment. The affair was of short duration but was very creditable to the officers and men engaged in it. On the 10th, General Burnside visited General McClellan at his headquarters in front of Richmond. This visit gave to General Burnside some explanation of the inactivity of the Army of the Potomac. One cause at least existed in the condition of that section of the country. The roads were found to be in horrible condition. The almost continuous rains of the preceding months had made almost the entire Peninsula like a vast morass. Even an enterprising general would have found it difficult, amid such circumstances, to satisfy the hopes of the country.
Another event of more personal than general interest was the presentation of the sword, voted by the General Assembly of Rhode Island, to General Burnside in recognition of the services rendered by him at the commencement of his campaign. The weapon and its appurtenances were exceedingly
elegant in design and finish, and happily illustrated the good taste of the manufacturer and the generosity of the State. Adjutant General E. C. Mauran was designated by the Governor of Rhode Island to present the sword, and he, in company with Captain Henry Bedlow, left Providence on the 2d day of June for Newbern. The presentation was made on the 20th, and the pageant is described by those who witnessed it in enthusiastic terms. The garrison of Newbern, all the Rhode Island troops in the Department and others that could readily be spared from their posts, were concentrated at Newbern. About eight thousand were in attendance. A grand review took place; and amidst the waving of banners, the inspiriting notes of martial music, and in the presence of a large multitude of spectators, the ceremony of presentation was performed. Congratulatory and very felicitous addresses were gracefully and eloquently pronounced on both sides, and a banquet, attended by all the officers present in the city, closed the festivities of the day. The honor, thus worthily conferred and modestly received, found readiest response in the hearts of the officers and men of the army in North Carolina, who attested, by long continued cheering and other demonstrations of joy, their appreciation of the compliment thus paid to their beloved commander.
But this concentration and review of troops had other purposes than those of display and compliment. General Burnside, weary of his long enforced quiet, had determined upon a movement into the interior. His supplies had been collected, his means of transportation prepared, his cavalry well trained for service, and his troops eager for marching orders. He proposed to strike at Goldsboro'. The most encouraging accounts had been received of General McClellan's operations towards Richmond, and hopes were entertained of the triumphant close of the campaign—and the war. With the communications cut, and the line of retreat obstructed, it was expected that the rebel Army of Northern Virginia would fall an easy prey to the victorious Army of the Potomac. The last days of June therefore