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But it is about time to hear something from that "Army
of the Potomac." You remember I told you a few pages
back that this was a large, fresh army, sent from the
North. The people expected great things of this army,
and were very impatient to see them go to work.
For a long time the enemy had been holding that railroad
junction that you heard of not long ago, so that there
was no way of getting to Richmond, the capital of the
Confederacy. I should not have said there was no way of
getting to this city—of course there were ways; but here was
 this railroad running straight to the city, carrying the
Confederates food and clothing every day, and so helping to keep
them able to fight on and on against their country. "If only
this capital could be taken, the war might be as good as ended,"
every one said. In that city were stored food and
blankets, guns and powder—everything that their army could
need. "Why doesn't McClellan march the Army of the
Potomac to take it!" everybody cried.
At last McClellan did move. He started his army on to
this junction, this stronghold of the Southerners. The troops
marched on, expecting, I presume, a terrible fight; but
imagine their surprise when on reaching there they found it
empty. Every Confederate had fled. More than that, on
examining their camp they found that the guns, those
terrible guns, which had been so long frightening back the
Union Army, were just nothing in the world but big logs,
their ends cut out to look like cannon-mouths, and painted
black! One of them, even, was only an old stove-pipe! I
wonder which this army felt the most—ashamed, or amused,
or angry—that all these weeks they had been trembling
before these Quaker guns!
Later, McClellan marched his forces upon Yorktown.
Here they kept up a siege for more than a month. But one
morning it was found that the enemy had run away in the
night in the same way they had run away before. This time,
 too, they left nothing to pay the Union Army for their long
work, except some old guns. This Confederate, General
Johnston, had a way of retreating in this clever way; and
came to be named in time, the "successful retreater."