Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

History of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life online

. (page 25 of 46)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 25 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

feated, than that the garrisons should be subjected to the
slightest inconvenience !

The answer of General Halleck to the telegrams of General
McClellan, in which the latter made so many propositions
about the movements of Sumner s Corps and the disposition of
Cox s force and the other troops for the defence of Washing
ton, is as follows :


"WASHINGTON, D. C., August 20$, 1862. j"

Your proposed disposition of Sumner s Corps seems to me judicious.
Of course I have no time to examine into details. The present danger
is a raid upon Washington in the night time. Dispose of all troops as
you deem best. I want Franklin s Corps to go far enough to find out
something about the enemy. Perhaps he may get such information at
Anandale as to prevent his going further. Otherwise, he will push on
towards Fairfax. Try to get something from direction of Manassas
either by telegrams or through Franklin s scouts. Our people must
move actively and find out where the enemy is. I am tired of guesses.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief.
Major-General MCCLELLAN, Alexandria.

It is in this dispatch that General McClellan finds his
authority to halt Franklin at Anandale. Franklin had been
repeatedly ordered to join Pope, but had been delayed by
McClellan, who evidently did not intend he should get beyond
his control if possible.

In his telegram to Halleck of 1 p. M. of the 29th, he asks if
he may do as seems to him best with all the troops in the
ricinity of Alexandria, including Franklin Franklin being
still in the vicinity of Alexandria. Ilallcck, in giving him
authority to dispose of all troops in his vicinity evidently refers
to the disposition to be made of those for the forts and
defences, for he proceeds to say, I want " Franklin s Corps
to go far enough to find out something about the enemy."


Franklin s Corps did not go out far enough to learn any thino-
about the enemy. What he learned he picked up at Anan-
dale from citizens, and probably from Banks s wagon-train,
which passed him as it carne from the front, which it seems
it was able to do with safety at the time McClellan considered
it too hazardous for 40,000 men to move to the front to join
the army.

It is unnecessary to pursue this matter any further, and
show, as might easily be done, how similar delays were pro
cured with respect to other troops which might have been
sent to re-enforce Pope. It is sufficient to say that forty
thousand men, exclusive of Burnside s force, were thus as it
seems to us intentionally withheld from Pope at the time he
was engaged in holding the army of Lee in check.

Having thus disposed of the question of re enforcements, it
now remains to say a word about supplies which General
^McClellan says he left nothing undone to forward to Pope.

When at Fort Monroe he telegraphed (August 21st, 10.
52 p. M .) :

I have ample supplies of ammunition for infantry and artillery, and
will have it up in time. / can supply any deficiency that may exist in
General Pope s army.

August the 30th (1.45 p. M.), General Halleck telegraphed
him :

Ammunition, and particularly for artillery, must be immediately sent
forward to Centreville for General Pope.

To which he replied :

I know nothing of the calibres of Pope s artillery. All I can do is to
direct my ordnance officer to load up all the wagons sent to him.

General McClellan might have very easily found out those*
calibres. His ordnance officer knew those of the corps of his
own army, and he was in telegraphic communication with the
ordnance officer in Washington, where a register is kept of all
the batteries in service.


What was his course with respect to supplies of forage and
subsistence, of which Pope s army was in such extreme
need ?

He directed Franklin to say to Pope he would send him out
supplies if he, Pope, would send back cavalry to escort them
out ! " Such a request," (says Pope in his dispatch of 5 A. M.,
August 30), "when Alexandria is full of troops, and I fighting
the enemy, needs no comment."

The Army of the Potomac, under General Pope, was
defeated and driven back upon Washington. But it had con
tested every inch of the ground, and had fought every battle
with a gallantry and tenacious courage that would have insured
a decisive viciory if it had been properly and promptly sup
ported. It was not broken, either in spirit or in organization ;
and it fell back upon the Capital prepared to renew the.
struggle for its salvation.

By this time, however, General McClcllan had become the
recognized head of a political party in the country, and a
military clique in the army ; and it suited the purposes of both
to represent the defeat of the Army of the Potomac as due to
the fact that General McClcllan was no longer at its head.
The progress of the rebel army, moreover, up the Potomac,
with the evident intention of moving upon Baltimore or into
Pennsylvania, had created a state of feeling throughout the
country and in Washington eminently favorable to the designs
of General McClellan s partisans ; and upon the urgent but un
just representation of some of his officers that the army would
not serve under any other commander, General Pope was
relieved, and General McClellan again placed at the head of
the Army of the Potomac, and on the 4th of September he
commenced the movement into Maryland to repel the invading
rebel forces.

On the llth, he made urgent application for re-enforce-


ments, asking that Colonel Miles be withdrawn from Har
per s Ferry, and that one or two of the three army corps
on the Potomac, opposite Washington, be at once sent to
join him. " Even if Washington should be taken," he said,
" while these armies are confronting each other, this would
not in my judgment bear comparison with the ruin and
disaster that would follow a single defeat of this army,"
although, as will be remembered, when that army was under
Pope, and engaged in a battle which might destroy it, he
had said (Aug. 27), " I think we should first provide for the
defence of the Capital." General Halleck replied that "the
capture of Washington would throw them back six months if not
destroy them," and that Miles could not join him until communi
cations were opened. On the 14th, the battle of South Moun
tain took place, the rebels falling back to the Potomac, and on
the 17th, the battle of Antietam was fought, resulting in the
defeat of the rebel forces, although no pursuit was made, and
they were allowed, during the night and the whole of the next
day, quietly to withdraw their shattered forces to the other
side of the Potomac. The losses he had sustained and the
disorganization of some of his commands were assigned by
General McClellan as his reason for not renewing the attack,
although the corps of General Fitz-John Porter had not been
brought into action at all. Orders were issued, however, for
a renewal of the battle on the 19th, but it was then suddenly
discovered that the enemy was on the other side of the Poto
mac. General McClellan did not feel authorized on account
of the condition of his army to cross in pursuit, and on the
23d, wrote to Washington, asking for re- enforcements, renew
ing the application on the 27th, and stating his purpose to be
to hold the. army where it was, and to attack the enemy should
he attempt to recross into Maryland. He thought that only
the troops necessary to garrison Washington should be re
tained there, and that every thing else available should be sent


to him. If re-enforced and allowed to take his own course,
he said, he would be responsible for the safety of the Capital.
On the 1st of October, President LINCOLN visited the army
and made careful inquiry into its strength and condition. On
the 6th, he issued the following order for an immediate ad
vance :

WASHINGTON, D. d, October 6, 1862.

I am instructed to telegraph to you as follows : Tho President directs
that you cross tho Potomac and give battle to the enemy, or drive him
south. Tour army must move now, while the roads are good. If
you cross the river between tho enemy and Washington, and cover the
latter by your operation, you can be re-enforced with thirty thousand
men. If you move up the valley of the Shenandoah not more than
twelve or fifteen thousand can bo sent you. The President advises the
interior line between Washington and the enemy, but does not order it.
Ho is very desirous that your army move as soon as possible. You
will immediately report what line you adopt, and when you intend to
cross the river : also to what point the re-enforcements are to bo sent.
It is necessary that the plan of your operations be positively determined
on, before orders are given for building bridges and repairing railroads.
I am directed to add, that the Secretary of War and the General-in-
Chief fully concur with the President in these instructions.

H. W. HALLECK, General-in- Chief.

M;ijor-General M

On receiving this order, Gen. McClellan inquired as to the
character of troops that would be sent him, and as to the
number of tents at command of the army. He also called
for very large quantities of shoes, clothing, and other sup
plies, and said that without these the army could not move.
On the llth, the rebel Gen. Stuart, with a force of about
2,500 men, made a raid into Pennsylvania, going completely
round our army, and thwarting all the arrangements by which
Gen. McClellan had reported that his capture was certain.
On the 13th, in consequence of his protracted delays, the
President addressed to General McClellan the following letter:



MY DEAR SIR: You remember my speaking to you of what I called
your overcautiousness. Are you not overcautious when you assume
that you cannot do what the enemy is constantly doing ? Should you
not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, and act upon the claim?

As I understand, you telegraphed Gen. Halleck that you cannot sub
sist your army at Winchester unless the railroad from Harper s Ferry
to that point be put in working order. But the enemy does now sub
sist his army at Winchester, at a distance nearly twice as great from
railroad transportation as you would have to do without the railroad
last named. He now wagons from Culpepper Court-IIouse, which is
just about twice as far as you would have to do from Harper s Ferry.
He is certainly not more than half as well provided with wagons as
you are. I certainly should be pleased for you to have the advantage
of the railroad from Harper s Ferry to Winchester ; but it wastes all the
remainder of autumn to give it to you, and, in fact, ignores the question
of time, which cannot and must not be ignored.

Again, one of the standard maxims of war, as you know, is, "to
operate upon the enemy s communications as much as possible, without
exposing your own." You seem to act as if this applies against you, but
can not apply in your favor. Change positions with the enemy, and
think you not he would break your communication with Richmond
within the next twenty-four hours ? You dread his going into Penn
sylvania. But if he does so in full force, he gives up his communica
tions to you absolutely, and you have nothing to do but to follow and
ruin him ; if he does so with less than full force, fall upon and beat
what is left behind all the easier.

Exclusive of the water line, you are now nearer Richmond than the
enemy is by the route that you can and he must take. Why can you
not reach there before him, unless you admit that he is more than your
equal on a march ? His route is the arc of a circle, while yours is the
chord. The roads are^ a"gdod on yours as on his.

You know I^desfred, but did not order, you to cross the Potomac
below instead of above the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge. My idea was,
that this would at once menace the enemy s communications, which I
would seize if he would permit. If he should move northward, I would
follow him closely, holding his communications. If he should prevent
our seizing his communications, and move toward Richmond, I would
press closely to him, fight him if a favorable opportunity should present,
and at least try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. I say


"try;" if we never try, we shall never succeed. If be make a stand
at "Winchester, moving neither north nor south, I would fight him there,
on the idea that if we cannot beat him when he bears the wastage of
coming to us, we never can wheu we bear the wastage of going to
him. This proposition is a simple truth, and is too important to be lost
sight of for a moment. In coining to us, he tenders us an advantage
which we should not waive. We should not so operate as to merely
drive him away. As we must beat him somewhere, or fail finally,
we can do it, if at all, easier near to us than far away. If we cannot
beat the enemy where he now is, we never can, he again being within
the intrenchments of Richmond. Recurring to the idea of going to
Richmond on the inside track, the facility of supplying from, the side
away from the enemy is remarkable, as it were, by the different spokes
of a wheel, extending from the hub toward the rim, and this whether
you move directly by the chord, or on the inside arc, hugging the Blue
Ridge more closely. The chord-line, as you see, carries you by Aldie,
Haymarket, and Fredericksburg, and you see how turnpikes, railroads,
and finally the Potomac by Aquia Creek, meet you at all points from
Washington. The same, only the lines lengthened a little, if you press
closer to the Blue Ridge part of the way. The gaps through the Blue
Ridge I understand to be about the following distances from Harper s
Ferry, to wit: Vestal s, five miles; Gregory s, thirteen; Snicker s,
eighteen; Ashby s, twenty-eight; Manassas, thi r ty-eight; Chester, forty-
five ; and Thornton s, fifty-three. I should think it preferable to take the
route nearest the enemy, disabling him to make an important move
without your knowledge, and compelling him to keep his forces together
for dread of you. The gaps would enable you to attack if you
should wish. For a great part of the way you would be practically
between the enemy and both Washington and Richmond, enabling us
to spare you the greatest number of troops from here. When, at length,
running to Richmond ahead of him enables him to move this way, if ho
does so, turn and attack him in the rear. But I think he should bo
engaged long before such point is reached. It is all easy if our troops
march as well as the enemy, and it is unmanly to say they cannot do
it. This letter is in no sense an order.

Yours, truly, A. LINCOLN.


For over a fortnight longer Gen. McClellan delayed any
attempt to move bis army in obedience to the President s


order. He spent this interval in complaints of inadequate
supplies, and in incessant demands for re-enforcements ; and
on the 21st inquired whether it was still the President s wish
that he should march upon the enemy at once, or await the
arrival of fresh horses. He was told in reply that the order
of the 6th was unchanged, and that while the President did not
expect impossibilities, he was "very anxious that all this good
weather should not be wasted in inactivity." Gen. McCicllan
states in his report that he inferred, from the tenor of this
dispatch, that it was left to his own judgment whether
it would be safe for the army to advance or not; and
he accordingly fixed upon the first of November as the
earliest date at which the forward movement could be com
menced. On the 25th he complained to the Department
of the condition of bis cavalry, saying that the horses were
fatigued and greatly troubled with sore tongue ; whereupon
the President addressed him the following inquiry :

I have just read your dispatch about sore-tongue and fatigued horses.
Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done
Bince the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything ?


The General replied that they had been engaged in making
reconnoissances, scouting, and picketing, to which the Presi
dent thus rejoined :


WASHINGTON, Oct. 26th, 1862. f

Tours in reply to mine about horses received. Of course you know
the facts better than I. Still, two considerations remain: Stuart s
cavalry outmarched ours, having certainly done more marked service on
the Peninsula and everywhere since. Secondly: will not a movement
of our army be a relief to the cavalry, compelling the enemy to concen
trate instead of "foraging" in squads everywhere? But I am so
rejoiced to learn from your dispatch to General Halleck that you began

crossing the river this morning.



The General replied in a long dispatch, rehearsing in detail
the labors performed by his cavalry, to which he thought the
President had done injustice. This note elicited the following
reply :


WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 to, 1862. f

Yours of yesterday received. Most certainly I intend no injustice to
any, and if I have done any I deeply regret it. To be told, after moro
than five weeks total inaction of the army, and during which period wo
had sent to that army every fresh horse we possibly could, amounting
in the whole to 7,918, that the cavalry horses were too much fatigued to
move, presented a very cheerless, almost hopeless, prospect for tho
future, and it may have forced something of impatience into my dis
patches. If not recruited and rested then, when could they ever be ?
1 suppose the river is rising, and I am glad to believe you are crossing.


The General next started, as a new topic of discussion, the
extent to which the line of the Potomac should be guarded
after he left it, so as to cover Maryland and Pennsylvania
from farther invasions. He thought strong garrisons should
be left at certain points, complained that his forces were
inadequate, and made some suggestion concerning the position
of the rebel army under Bragg, which led General Ilalleck in
reply to remind him that Bragg was four hundred miles away,
while Lee was but twenty. On the 27th the General tele
graphed to the President that it was necessary to "fill up the
old regiments of his command before taking them again into
action," to which the President thus replied :


WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 to, 1862. J"

Tour dispatch of three P. M. to-day, in regard to filling up old regi
ments with drafted men, is received, and the request therein shall bo
complied with as far as practicable. And now I ask a distinct answer
to tho question, " Is it your purpose not to go into action again till the
men now being drafted in the States are incorporated in the old
regiments?" A. LINCOLN.


The General, in reply, explained that the language of the
dispatch, which was prepared by one of his aids, had incor
rectly expressed his meaning, and that he should not postpone
the advance until the regiments were filled by drafted men.
The army was gradually crossed over, and on the 5th of No
vember the General announced to the President that it was all
on the Virginia side. This was just a month after the order
to cross had been given the enemy meantime having taken
possession of all the strong points, and falling back, at his
leisure, towards his base of operations. These unaccountable
delays in the movement of the army created the most intense
dissatisfaction in the public mind, and completely exhausted
the patience of the Government. Accordingly, on the 5th of
November, an order was issued relieving General McClellan
from the command of the Army of the Potomac, and directing
General Burnside to take his place.

Thus closed a most remarkable chapter in the history of the
war. For over fifteen months General McClellan had com
manded the Army of the Potomac, the largest and most
powerful army ever marshalled upon this continent consisting
of 160,000 men, and furnished, in lavish profusion, with
every thing requisite for effective service. Throughout the
whole of this long period that army had been restrained by its
commander from attacking the enemy : except in the single
instance of Antietam, where, moreover, there was no possi
bility of avoiding an engagement, every battle which it fought
was on the defensive. According to the sworn testimony of
his own commanders, General McClellan might have over
whelmed the rebel forces arrayed against him at Manassas, at
Yorktown, after Williamsburgh, Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, and
Antietam ; but on every one of these occasions he carefully
forbore to avail himself of the superiority of his position, and
gave the enemy ample time to prepare for more complete and


effective resistance. It is no part of our present purpose to
inquire into the causes of this most extraordinary conduct on
the part of a commander to whom, more completely than to
any other, were entrusted the destinies of the nation during
the most critical period of its existence. Whether he acted
from an innate disability, or upon a political theory whether
he intentionally avoided a decisive engagement in order to ac
complish certain political results which he and his secret ad
visers deemed desirable, or whether be was, by the native
constitution of his mind, unable to meet the gigantic responsi
bilities of his position when the critical moment of trial arrived,
are points which the public and posterity will decide from an
unbiased study of the evidence which his acts and his words
afford. As the record we have given shows, President
LINCOLN lost no opportunity of urging upon him more prompt
and decisive action, while in no instance did he withhold from
him any aid which it was in the power of the Government to

Nothing can show more clearly the disposition of the Presi
dent to sustain him to the utmost, and to protect him from
the rapidly rising tide of public censure and discontent with
his ruinous and inexplicable delays, than the following remarks
made by him at a war meeting held at Washington on the 6th
of August, after the retreat to the James River, and just be
fore the withdrawal of the army from the Peninsula :

FELLOW-CITIZENS ; I believe there is no precedent for my appearing
before you on this occasion, but it is also true that there is no prece
dent for your being here yourselves, and I offer, in justification of my
self and of you, that, upon examination, I have found nothing in the
Constitution against it. I, however, have an impression that there are
younger gentlemen who will entertain you better, and better address
your understanding than I wilJ or could, and therefore I propose but to
detain you a moment longer.

I am very little inclined on any occasion to say any thing umt-ss I
hope to produce some good by it. The only thing I think of jusc now


not likely to be better said by some one else, is a matter in which we
have heard some other persons blamed for what I did myself. There
has been a very wide-spread attempt to have a quarrel between General
McClellan and the Secretary of War. Now, I occupy a position that
enables me to observe, that these t\vo gentlemen are not nearly so deep
in the quarrel as some pretending to be their friends. General McClel-
lan s attitude is such that, in the very selfishness of his nature, he can
not but wish to be successful, and I hope he will and the Secretary of
War is in precisely the same situation. If the military commanders in
the field cannot be successful, not only the Secretary of War, but my
self, for the time being the master of them both, cannot but be failures.
I know General McClellan wishes to be successful, and I know he does
not wish it any more than the Secretary of War for him, and both of
them together no more than I wish it. Sometimes we have a dispute
about how many men General McClellan has had, and those who would
disparage him say that he has had a very large number, and those who
would disparage the Secretary of War insist that General McCLellan has
had a very small number. The basis for this is. there is always a wide
difference, and on this occasion, perhaps a wider one than usual, between
the grand total on McClellan s rolls and the men actually fit for duty;
and those who would disparage him talk of the grand total on paper,

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 25 of 46)