By David Norris On the last day of May 1862, heavy gunfire rumbled and thundered in the distance beyond the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. Gloomy clouds overhead reinforced the darkness that shadowed the Union Army. Only the day before, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac had seemed poised to move decisively against Richmond, but a torrential rainstorm that night had turned the roads into deep quagmires. McClellan, as usual, decided to wait. McClellan had greatly restored the army’s morale in the months after the Union disaster at Bull Run on July 21, 1861. He was sensitive to the needs of his soldiers, and the men in the ranks were devoted to him. A methodical planner, McClellan initially enjoyed great success after opening the Peninsula campaign in March 1862. Outmaneuvering the Confederates, he continually pushed General Joseph Johnston’s forces inland into Virginia from the Chesapeake. By May, weeks of successful campaigning had brought the enemy nearly to the gates of Richmond. So close to the Rebel capital were the lead elements of McClellan’s army that they could hear the clanging of church bells in Richmond. [text_ad] McClellan’s opponent, Joseph Eggleston Johnston, mirrored him in many ways. Born in Virginia in 1807, Johnston had graduated with Robert E. Lee in the West Point class of 1829. (McClellan had graduated from the Academy in 1846.) Johnston’s steady and exemplary service in Indian conflicts and the Mexican War ear


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