Page:Boissonnas, Un Vaincu, English, 1875.djvu/77

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lose. General Lee left his post with the President and took the command of the army.

That responsibility was a serious thing to accept under such circumstances. The enemy guns were only five miles from Richmond, and the assailants were already boasting, as if the capital of rebellion were already conquered. Seven thousand Confederates littered the battlefield. Another defeat, and all would be lost.

The Southerners were spared this new defeat by the energy of their commandant. McClellan did not succeed in gaining an inch of land. Days passed without either army taking the risk of a new battle which, for either one of them, could turn into a disascer. However, General Lee had serious reasons for wanting to precipitate the outcome of the situation. Munitions were going to lack -- he would soon have to give up containing the enemy.

On June 12th, he sent fifteen hundred horsemen, under command of General Stewart, on a raid. In 10 days of riding constantly through enemy territory, the column circumvented the Northern army ; destroyed roads, bridges, telegraph poles, and brought back a good number of prisoners. It returned to camp on June 22nd.

Inspired by the information he got from Stewart, Lee recalled, secretly, Johnson′s corps ; which, 90 miles away, was threatening the City of Washington. Then, pushing all his forces ahead, he gave, on the 26th, the signal of a battle