Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 138
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 138
 
 
to be 180,000, of whom 70,000 were attacking Porter, while 110,000 lay behind intrenchments between him and Richmond. As matter of fact, 57,000 were assailing Porter, while about 30,000 held the earthworks protecting Richmond: these last led McClellan and his corps commanders into a gross exaggeration of their number by attacking their pickets from time to time and by frequently opening fire on their works with artillery. McClellan’s timid tactics are revealed in his hesitation in reënforcing Porter. He loved Porter and would have rejoiced without a spark of envy to see him win a glorious victory. His despatches show how anxious he was to give him efficient support; and purely military considerations should have induced him to send large reënforcements to Porter’s aid. His telegram to the Secretary of War at the close of the day that he was “attacked by greatly superior numbers in all directions on this side” 1 (the Richmond side of the Chickahominy) remains an ineffaceable record of his misapprehension.  86
  Skilful though the leader, brave though the men, 34,000 without intrenchments, with barriers only erected along a small portion of their front, could not finally prevail against 57,000 equally brave and as skilfully led. The end came at about seven o’clock. Lee and Jackson ordered a general assault; the Confederates broke the Union line, captured many cannon and forced Porter’s troops back to the woods on the bank of the Chickahominy. Two brigades of Sumner’s corps, who had been tardily sent to the support of their comrades, efficiently covered the retreat of the exhausted and shattered regiments who withdrew dejectedly to the south side of the river.  87
  In his despatches during the battle, McClellan does not betray panic. At five o’clock he thought Porter might hold
 
Note 1. 8 P.M. O. R., XI, Pt. III, 266. [back]
 

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