2

The Recent Movements before Richmond.

[From Wilkes' Spirit of the Times.]

"Shocked and dejected at the unforeseen result, the loyal public have anxiously endeavored to ascertain the cause; while, taking advantage of the general perturbation, ever traitor in our midst has sought to locate the blame against the government. It is also a feature of this vicious clamor, nay, it is its leading feature, that all these denunciations of the government are invariably accompanied by the most fulsome eulogies of General McClellan, and a schism is thus attempted to be set on foot, the object of which is either to open a Presidential campaign in his favor, or to distract the public mind on the subject of the prosecution of the war.

"This game has been going on now for a considerable time, and it appears to us a little singular that Gen. McClellan suffers it to proceed, without a word calculated to rebuke the treason, and sustain the administration from such injurious slanders. He cannot fail to see that he is put forward virtually as the leader of this factious opposition, and that his pretended wrongs are the redoubts behind which these sneaking traitors level their shafts against the bosom of the country. A warfare of this sort, being made apparently in his interest, should receive a share of his attention; and if he be not able to drive back the armed insurgents, eh can at least rebuke their slanderous allies who are co-operating with them in the midst of our society.

"In looking back upon the battles of the week, and reviewing the fruitless valor of our soldiers in connection with the sad result, it is not difficult to arrive at the conclusion that the whole campaign of the Peninsula has been a blunder. The true road to Richmond was due South from Washington, by which course an army of 250,000 men, covering the capital as it advanced, might many a time during the last nine months have been driven in one compact mass upon the then debilitated rebel stronghold. The division of it into parts, so that one-half might make the straight circuit round Robin Hood's barn, with the door open and the road clear (vide Jackson) towards the North, was the most fatal error that could have been committed; and the commanding general who consented to perform the leading part is truly responsible for the weakness of the scheme. If he did not approve of it, he should not have consented to it; if he thought his forces insufficient, his resignation would have been a more honorable and soldierly alternative than the sacrifice of the army. Being deficient in the strength, he should not have located his forces amid swamps and extended his lines for thirty miles in the face of a compact and superior enemy, nor for a long period of days assumed the attitude of giving battle. The position in which he placed himself could hardly have been chosen worse. He was perfectly isolated from Pope's army and from Burnside's, while the rebels, with superior tactics, had made masterly combinations of their forces at a common center. Worst of all he separated himself form his gunboats, the co-operation of which was the argument that sent him to the peninsula. One would suppose that the military mind which could, after the reflection of a fortnight, detect the fatal error of this inland isolation, might have seen its absurdity at the outset, and by occupying the river bank at the first available point below Fort Darling, moved forward with the gunboats acting as a left wing and, in themselves representing a strength equal to 30,000 men. He might have taken this position at Turkey Bend or Harrison's Landing before the battle of Fair Oaks, or on any day for a week after it; and it is most unfortunate that he did not think of a base of operations on the James river until the enemy were prepared to make it cost us 20,000 lives.

"It is proper that the people would think these things well over, and, while they give due credit to the wondrous valor of our troops, and the skill of those great captains, Heintzelman, Sumner, Kearney and Franklin, who extricated them from their dreadful situation, administer condemnation wherever it may be due.

Our seven days' struggle was one continuous retreat, conducted under a general order to that effect by the commander-in-chief; but its triumphs were reaped in a series of separated battles, the varying fortunes of which, the above named able marshals were separately obliged to steer and govern for themselves. All that we have to add on the subject of this week of fighting is, that the rebels suffered equally with ourselves, but, nevertheless, they have earned a great moral advantage, and the Union army has received a check which will retard its progress for six months."