James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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    For nearly a month, the Union Army lay quietly in camp on the Chickahominy. Their line of pickets ran to within six miles of the city, and the sentinels guarding the Mechanicsville bridge could read on the guide post, “To Richmond 4.5 miles.” McClellan’s soldiers could see the spires of Richmond, hear the church bells and even the clocks striking the hour. The Confederate outposts were within musket range; the people of Richmond could see the reflection of the Union camp fires and at times could hear the enemy’s bugle calls. 1 The heavy rains continued and the Chickahominy became a flood. Movements of artillery were difficult. The Union camps were in a swamp and much illness was caused by the damp and malarious atmosphere and by the soldiers drinking the water of the marshes. For this reason, there was from June 1 to 20 a perceptible lowering of the morale of the army. McClellan begged for reënforcements and in response obtained 21,000 men who came to him by the water route. By the middle of June the weather was fine and the roads dry. It looked as if the offensive movement, so often promised by McClellan, would at last be made. Having brought all of his corps but one over to the south side of the river, he probably intended to move by gradual approaches within shelling distance of Richmond, shell the city and possibly attempt to carry it by assault. “McClellan’s plan to take Richmond by a siege,” wrote Longstreet, “was wise enough and it would have been a success if the Confederates had consented to such a programme.” 2  79   On account of Johnston’s disability, Robert E. Lee was placed in command of the Army of Northern Virginia (as it became known shortly afterwards). Johnston had been a
Note 1. Lieut.-Col. Henderson, II, 2; O. R., XI, Pt. III, 233. General Meade I, 276. [back]
Note 2. B. & L., II, 404; see General Meade, I, 275. [back]