from The Webster Times, July 5, 1862 (Volume IV # 17), 
THE WAR

John Spaulding, Editor.

No week of the campaign, since that which witnessed the disaster at Bull Run, has chronicled a greater apparent disappointment than the past. (week) The famous army of the Potomac, the flower of the country’s soldiers, commanded by the leading general of the Union forces, entrenched by all the ditches, breastworks and parallels which modern and astute military science could devise or execute ,-has been attacked by the “starving minions of Jeff. Davis,” and suffered a repulse

This is the only sensible conclusion at which we can arrive after carefully studying all the facts which we have been able to gather from the sources within our command. It seems to be a correct statement that the rebel army at Richmond, reinforced by about thirty thousand troops under command of Jackson ( whom our generals in the Shenandoah Valley have for the last few months been trying alternately to resist and to bag ) on Thursday of last week made an attack on McClellan’s right wing. The engagement lasted Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and resulted in the retreat of McClellan’s army across the Chickahominy, further advance of the enemy here prevented by the destruction of a bridge.

Correspondents of the various papers state our losses in killed, wounded and missing to be from twelve hundred to eight thousand, together with ten cannon captured by the enemy, and the destruction of a considerable amount of ammunition and commissary stores to prevent their falling into the hands of the rebels. This affair is by our generals called “a glorious victory,” inasmuch as it is said to be the successful carrying out of a part of McClellan’s grand strategic movement upon Richmond.

This may be, although we must confess that we can’t see it. Months of time and hard labor have been spent to gain the foothold which was acquired on the Peninsula. Millions of dollars have been required, and the loss of hundreds of our brave men by the miasmas and infections of the swamps and battlefields has been involved, in order to hold the ground gained; now after worrying along in weary months of ditching, till a point but three miles from the rebel capitol had been gained, McClellan suddenly dreams out a new piece of strategy, which is to abandon everything and allow himself to be driven miles in retreat, as a part of the grand advance on Richmond!

The New York Herald’s correspondent on the battlefield on Friday of last week, takes time during the first pause in the days retreat to write as follows: “Today another battle has been fought by our gallant Union troops, another glorious victory to be added to the brilliant records of Wednesday and Thursday. I call today's battle a victory for so it is set down by those who claim to understand the purpose of the movement. Giving up ground that we held and burning commissary and ammunition stores while fleeing a pursuing enemy, looks like defeat. But it was not a defeat, it was part and parcel of a strategic plan. We gave up ground that it was deemed inexpedient, with the force at command , to hold any longer.”

The writers stupidity is certainly excusable, for nowhere in the annals of military science do we find a retreat and rout, similar to that which McClellan has sustained, set down as a “glorious victory.” The rebels have enjoyed this kind of “victory” at several points during the campaign, but until now it has not been, considered very desirable to be indulged in by the Union army.

It is now stated that the base of operations in the advance on Richmond will be on the James River, and that in this McClellan’s army will receive the co-operation of gunboats. But Fort Darling must first be taken from the rebels, and the formidable obstructions in the river must be removed; and when all this is done, the co-operation of gunboats on the James River is a matter upon which little reliance can be placed, as the stream for three or four miles below Richmond is represented as narrow and tortuous, and no vessel drawing more than six feet of water can approach within a mile of the city.

 

15th Massachusetts VI