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A long, long time of defeats for the Union army followed.
The Confederates were getting
themselves together at Richmond, their capital. They
knew that was their stronghold and supposed of course
the Union army knew it, too, and would before
many days bear down upon them.
Down to the banks of the Chickahominy went
our "Army of the Potomac." This river was
a sluggish, muddy stream, with swamps on every side.
The army was set to work
digging trenches, and throwing up banks of earth to defend
them from the Confederate force in Richmond. This was a
 sad, sad time. In this damp, unhealthy spot, our soldiers
worked on day and night. Unused to the climate, the men
began to die as if seized with a plague. Hundreds and
hundreds of them sank beneath the poison of the place, and
every day our "Army of the Potomac" grew smaller and smaller.
Again McClellan stood still. Johnston, the "successful
retreater," not wishing to retreat this time, came out from
the city and attacked McClellan himself at Fair Oaks.
Fortune favored our side in the battle, and Johnston was
made to retreat this time into the city.
Johnston was wounded in this battle; and so, unfitted for
service, he was obliged to give up his command. Robert
Lee became the Confederate commander in his place.
McClellan still hesitated to push forward and his men were
dying off in hundreds.
Stonewall Jackson now arrived at Richmond and joined
his forces with those of Lee's.
McClellan still waited, until the enemy again came out and,
by attacking him, forced him to act. Now began a series of
battles called the "Seven Days' Battles." Every day for a
week the two armies engaged in battle, and every day
McClellan ordered "retreat, retreat." On the seventh day
the Union forces, from a high ridge of land, poured down
their fire with such vigor and such success that the enemy,
powerful as they were, were driven back broken and
confused, having lost greatly in dead and wounded. Even now
 it is a mystery, explained one way by some, another way
by others that McClellan, brave and well-trained as he was
should have held his forces back as he did week after week,
apparently doing nothing.
Certainly he had some reason for his action (or lack of
action) whatever it was. Perhaps some soldier who was in
the war can tell you all about it. You and I could hardly
form a just opinion regarding it. So, for now, let us go on
and read about a battle between McClellan and the brave
GEN. R. E. LEE