Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) online

. (page 29 of 42)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 29 of 42)
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General McClellan began again to prepare for fighting

* See General McClete i testimony Beport of Committee OB Oou4et o f tb*
War, wl. I, p, 401,


the "decisive battle" which he had been predicting evei
since the rebels withdrew from Manassas, but which they
had so far succeeded in avoiding. A good deal of his at
tention, however, was devoted to making out a case of
neglect against the Government. On the 10th of May,
when he had advanced but three miles beyond William s-
burg, ho sent a long dispatch to the War Department.,
reiterating his conviction that the rebels were about to
dispute his advance with their whole force, and asking
for "every man" the Government could send him. If
not re-enforced, he said he should probably be "obliged
to fight nearly double his numbers strongly intrenched."
Ten days previously the official returns showed that he
had one hundred and sixty thousand men under his com
mand. On the 14tli, he telegraphed the President reit
erating his fears that he was to be met by overwhelming
numbers, saying that he could not bring more than eighty
thousand men into the field, and again asking for " every
man" that the War Department could send him. Even
if more troops should needed for military pur
poses, he thought a great display of imposing force in
the capital of the rebel government would have the best
moral effect. To these repeated demands the President,
through the Secretary of War, on the 18th of May, made
the following reply :

WASHINGTON, May 18 2 p. M

GENERAL : -Your dispatch to the President, asking re-enforcementa
has been received and carefully considered.

The President is not willing to uncover the Capital entirely ; and it i.
believed that even if this were prudent, it would require more time to
effect a junction between your ariny and that of the Rappahannock by tho
way of the Potomac and York River, than by a land march. In order,
therefore, to increase the strength of the attack upon Richmond at the
earliest moment, General McDowell has been ordered to march upon that
city by the shortest route. He is ordered, keeping himself always in posi
tion, to save the Capital from all possible attack, so to operate as to put
his left wing in communication with your right wing, and you are in
structed to co-operate so as to establish this communication as soon as
possible by extending your right wing to tho north of Richmond.

It is believed that this communication can be safely established
worth or south of tho Parrmnkey River.


Fn any event, you will be able to prevent the main body of the enemy s
forces from leaving Richmond, and falling in overwhelming force upon
General McDowell. He will move with between thirty-five and fort}
thousand men.

A copy of the instructions to General McDowell are with this.
specific task assigned to his command has been to provide against any
danger to the capital of the nation.

At your earliest call for re-enforcements, he is sent forward to co-oper
ate in the reduction of Richmond, but charged, in attempting this, not to
uncover the City of Washington, and you will give no order, either before
ar after your junction, which can put him out of position to cover this
nty. You and ho will communicate with each other by telegraph or
otherwise, as frequently as may be necessary for sufficient co-operation.
When General McDowell is in position on your right, his supplies must
be drawn from West Point, and you will instruct your staff officers to bd
prepared to supply him by that route.

The President desires that General McDowell retain the command of
the Department of the Rappahannock, and of the forces with which he
moves forward.

By order of the President. EDWIN M. STANTON.

In reply to this, on the 21st of May, General McClellan
repeated his declarations of the overwhelming force of
the rebels, and urged that General McDowell should join
him by water instead of by land, going down the Rappa
hannock and the bay to Fortress Monroe, and then ascend
ing the York and Pamunkey Rivers. He feared there
was " little hope that he could join him overland in time
for the coming battle. Delays," he says, " on my part
will be dangerous : I fear sickness and demoralization.
This region is unhealthy for Northern men, and unless
cept moving, I fear that our soldiers may become dis
couraged " a fear that was partially justified by the ex
perience of the whole month succeeding, during which
he kept them idle. He complained also that McDowell
was not put more completely under his command, and
declared that a movement by land would uncover Wash
ington quite as completely as one by water. He was
busy at that, time in bridging the Chickahominy, and
gave no instructions, as required, for supplying McPcw
ell s forces on their arrivil ^ West Point


To these representations he received fiom the Presi
dent the following reply :

WASHINGTON May 24, 1862.

I loft General McDowell s camp at dark last evening. Shields s com
mand is there, but it is so worn that he cannot move before Mondaj
morning, the 26th. We have so thinned our line to get troops for other
places that it was broken yesterday at Front Royal, with a probable lo?i
t-o us of one regiment infantry, two companies cavalry, putting Genera.
Banks in some peril

The enemy s forces, under General Anderson, now opposing Gen era. I
McDowell s advance, have, us their line of supply and retreat, the road t<. \

If, in conjunction with McDowell s movement against Anderson, you
could send a force from your right to cut off the enemy s supplies from
Richmond, preserve the railroad bridge across the two fords of the IV
munkey, and intercept the enemy s retreat, you will prevent the army
now opposed to you from receiving an accession of numbers of nearly
fifteen thousand men ; and if you succeed in saving the bridges, you will
secure a line of railroad for supplies in addition to the one you now have.
Can you not do this almost as well as not, while you are building the
Chickahominy bridges? McDowell and Shields both say they can, and
positively will move Monday morning. I wish you to move cautiously
and safely.

You will have command of McDowell, after he joins you, precisely as
you indicated in your long dispatch to us of the 21st.

A. LINCOLN, President.

Major-General G. B. MCOLELLAN.

General Banks, it will be remembered, had been sent by
General McClellan, on the 1st of April, to guard the ap
proaches to Washington by the valley of the Shenandoah,
which were even then menaced by Jackson with a con ,
siderable rebel force. A conviction of the entire insn ffi
ciency of the forces left for the protection of the Capital
had led to the retention of McDowell, from whose com
mand, however, upon General McClellan s urgent and
impatient applications, General Franklin s division had
been detached. On the 23d, as stated in the above letter
*rom the President, there were indications of a purpose
on Jackson s part to move in force against Banks; and
this purpose was so clearly developed, and his situation
became so critical, that the President was compelled to


re-enforce him, a movement which he announced in the
following dispatch to General McCleilan : -

May 24, 1862. (From Washington, 4 p. M.)

In consequence of General Bariks s critical position, I have been com
filled to suspend General McDowell s movements to join you. Th%
enemy are making a desperate push upon Harper s Ferry, and we are
trying to throw General Fremont s force, and part of General McDowell s,
in their rear. A. LINCOLN, President.

Major-General G. B.

Unable, apparently, or unwilling to concede an^y tning
whatever to emergencies existing elsewhere, General
McCleilan remonstrated against the diversion of McDow
ell, in reply to which he received, on the 26th, the
following more full explanation from the President :

WASHINGTON, May 25, 1S62.

Your dispatch received. General Banks was at Strasburg with about
six thousand men, Shields having been taken from him to swell a col
umn for McDowell to aid you at Richmond, and the rest of his force
scattered at various places. On the 23d, a rebel force, of seven thousand
to ten thousand, fell upon one regiment and two companies guarding
the bridge at Port Royal, destroying it entirely: choused the Shenandoali,
and on the 24th, yesterday, pushed on to get north of Banks on the road
to Winchester. General Banks ran a race with them, beating them into
Winchester yesterday evening. This morning a battle ensued between
the two forces, in which General Banks was beaten back into full retreat
towards Martinsburg, and probab ] y i;* broken up into a total rout. Geary,
on the Manassas Gap Railroad, just now reports that Jackson is now
nea Front Royal with ten thousand troops, following up and supporting,
as 1 v. lerstand, the force now pursuing Banks. Aleo, that another force
of ten thousand is near Orleans, following on in the same direction.
Stripped bare, as we are here, I will do all we can to prevent them cross
ing the Potomac at Harper s Ferry or above. McDowell has about
twenty thousand of his forces moving back to the vicinity of Port Royal,
and Fremont, who was at Franklin, is moving to Harrisonburg both these
movements intended to get in the enemy s rear.

One more of McDowell s brigades is ordered through here to Harper s
Ferry ; the rest of his forces remain for the present at Fredericksburg.
We are sending such regiments and dribs from here and Baltimore as we
can spare to Harper s Ferry, supplying their places in some sort, calling
in militia from the adjacent States. We also have eighteen cannon on
the road to Harper s Ferry, of which arm there is not a single on* at
tlmt point. This is now our situation.


If McDowell s force was now beyond onr reach, we should b* entirety
helpless. Apprehensions of something like this, and no unwillingness to
sustain you, has always been my reason for withholding McDowell i
forces from you.

Please understand this, and do the best you can with the forces you
h ;ve. A. LINCOLN, President.

Major-General MOOLELLAN.

Jackson continued his triumphant march through the
Shenandoah Valley, and for a time it seemed as if noth
ing could prevent his crossing the Potomac, and making
his appearance in rear of Washington. The President
promptly announced this state of things to General Me-
Clellan in the following dispatch :

WASHINGTON, May 25, 18622 p. M.

The enemy is moving north in sufficient force to drive General Bankt
l\fore him ; precisely in what force we cannot tell. He is also threaten-
iLg Leesbnrg and Geary on the Manassas Gap Railroad, from both north
EYid south ; in precisely what force we cannot tell. I think the move
ment is a general and concerted one. Such as would not be if he was
acting upon the purpose of a very desperate defence of Richmond. I
tluuk the time is near when you must either attack Richmond or give
up the job, and come to the defence of Washington. Let me hear from
von instantly. A. LINCOLN.

To this General McClellan replied that, independently
of the President s letter, "the time was very near when
he should attack Richmond." He knew nothing of
Banks s position and force, "but thought Jackson s move
ment was designed to prevent re- enforcements being sent
to him.

On the 26th, the President announced to General Me
Olellan the safety of Banks at Williamsport, and then
turned his attention, with renewed anxiety, to the move
ment against Richmond, urging General McClellan, if
possible, to cut the railroad between that city and the
Rappahannock, over which the enemy obtained their
supplies. The General, on the evening of the 26th, in
formed him that he was " quietly closing in upon the
enemy preparatory to the last struggle" that he felt
forced to take every possible precaution against disaster,


ftncl that his " arrangements for the morrow were very
important, and if successful would leave him free to
strike on the return of the force attacked." The move
ment here referred to was one against a portion of the
rebel forces at Hanover Court-House, which threatened
McDowell, and was in a position to re-enforce Jackson.
The expedition was under command of General Fitz-Johu
Porter, and proved a success. General McClellan on the
28th announced it to the Government as a complete
rout" of the rebels, and as entitling Porter to the highest
honors. In the same dispatch he said he would do his
best to cut off Jackson from returning to Richmond, but
doubted if he could. The great battle was about to be
fought before Richmond, and he adds : "It is the policy
And the duty of the Government to send me by water all
the well-drilled troops available. All unavailable troops
should be collected here." Porter, he said, had cut
all the railroads but the one from Richmond to Fred-
ericksburg, which was the one concerning which the
President had evinced the most anxiety. Another
expedition was sent to the South Anna River and
Ashland, which destroyed some bridges without op
position. This was announced to the Government by
Genera,! McClellan as another "complete victory " achiev
ed by the heroism of Porter accompanied by the state
ment that the enemy were even in greater force than
he had supposed. " I will do," said the dispatch, "all
that quick movements can accomplish, and you must
Bend me all the troops you can, and leave to me full
latitude as to choice of commanders." In reply, the
President sent him the following :

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1861

I am very glad of General F. J. Porter s victory; still, if it was a total
rout of the enemy, I am puzzled to know why the Richmond and Fred-
ericksburg Railroad was not seized again, as you say you have all the
railroads but the Richmond and Fredericksburg. I am puzzled to see
how, lacking that, you can have any, except the scrap from Richmond to
West Point. The scrap of the Virginia Central, from Richmond to Han
over Junction, without nore, is simply nothing. That the whole of tlif
is concentrating on Rlchmoud. I think, cannot be c^Hiiily known


to you or me. Saxton, at Harper*! Ferry, informs us that large forces*
upposed to be Jackson s and E well s, forced his advance from Charles-
iown to-day. General King telegraphs us from Fredericksburg that con
trabands give certain information that fifteen thousand left Hanovei
J~ notion Monday morning to re-enforce Jackson. I am painfully im-
^ressed with the importance of the struggle before you, and shall aid you
all I can consistently with my view of the due regard to all points.


To a dispatch reporting the destruction of the South
Anna Railroad bridge, the President replied thus :

WASHINGTON, &ay 29, 1SG2.

Yonr dispatch as to the South Anna and Ashland being seized by
our forces this morning is received. Understanding these points to be
on the Richmond and Fredericksbnrg Railroad, I heartily congratulate
the country, and thank General McOlellan and his army for their seizure.


On the 30th, General McClellan telegraphed to the Sec
retary of War, complaining that the Government did not
seem to appreciate the magnitude of Porter s victory, and
saying that his army was now well in hand, and that
" another day will make the probable field of battle pass
able for artillery."

On the 25th of May, General Keyes with the Fourth
Corps had been ordered across the Chickahominy, and was
followed by the Third, under General Heintzelman cue
division of the Fourth, under General Casey, being pushed
forward within seven miles of Richmond, to Seven Pines,
which he was ordered to hold at all hazards. On the 28th,
General Keyes was ordered to advance Casey s Division
three-quarters of a mile to Fair Oaks. General Keyes
obeyed the order, but made strong representations to head
quarters of the extreme danger of pushing these troops so
far in advance without adequate support, and requested
that General Heintzelman might be brought within sup
porting distance, and that a stronger force might be crossed
over the Chickahominy to be in readiness for the general
engagement which these advances would be very likely
to bring on. These requests were neglected, and General


Keyes was regarded and treated as an alarmist. On the
afternoon of the SOtli he made a personal examination of
his front, and reported that he was menaced by an over
whelming force of the enemy in front and on both Hanks,
and he again urged the necessity for support, to which he
received a very abrupt reply that no more troops would
be crossed over, and that the Third Corps would not be ad
vanced unless he was attacked. At about noon the next
day he was attacked on both flanks and in front, General
Casey s Division driven back with heavy loss, and in spite
of a stubborn and gallant resistance on the part of his
coi-ps, General Keyes was compelled to fall back with
severe losses, some two miles, when the enemy was check
ed, and night put an end to the engagement. On hearing
the firing at head-quarters, some four miles distant, Gen
eral McClellan ordered General Sumner to hold his com
mand in readiness to move. General Sumner not only did
so, but moved them at once to the bridge, and on receiv
ing authority crossed over, and, by the greatest exertions
over muddy roads, reached the field of battle in time to
aid in checking the rebel advance for the night. Early
the next morning the enemy renewed the attack with great
vigor, but the arrival of General Sumner, and the advance
of General Heintzelman s Corps, enabled our forces, though
still greatly inferior, not only to repel the assault, but to
inflict upon the enemy a signal defeat. They were driven
back in the utmost confusion and with terrible losses upon
Richmond, where their arrival created the utmost con
sternation, as it was taken for granted they would be
immediately followed by our whole army.

General McClellan, who had remained with the main
body of the army on the other side of the Chickahominy
during the whole of the engagements of both days, crossed
the river after the battle was over, and visited the field.
"The &tate of the roads, 7 he says, "and the impossibil
ity of mano3uvring artillery, prevented pursuit. 5 He re
turned to head- quarter? in the afternoon. On the next
day, June 2d, General Heintzelman sent forward a strong
reconnoitring party under General Hooker, wliich went


within four miles of Richmond without finding any en
emy. Upon being informed of this fact, General McCle]
Ian ordered the force to fall back to its old position,
assigning the bad state of the roads as the reason for no$
attempting either to march upon Richmond, or even tn
hold the ground already gained. In a dispatch to Wash
ington on the 2d, he states that he " only waits for th3
river to fall to cross with the rest of the army and make
a, general attack. The morale of my troops, " he adds,

is now such that I can venture much. I do not fear for
odds against me." It seems to have been his intention
then, to concentrate his forces for an immediate advance
upon the rebel capital, though in his report, written more
than a year afterwards, he says the idea of uniting the
two wings of the army at that time for a vigorous mov*
upon Richmond was " simply absurd, and was probably
never seriously entertained by any one connected with the
Army of the Potomac."*

The Government at once took measures to strengthen
the army by all the means available. An order was issued,
placing at his command all the disposable forces at Fortress
Monroe, and another ordering McDowell to send MeCalP s
division to him by water from Fredericksburg. McDowell
or Fremont was expected to light Jackson at Front Royal,
after which, part of their troops would become available
for the Army of the Potomac. On the 4th, General
McClellan telegraphed that it was raining, that the river
was still high, that he had "to be very cautious," that
,.he expected another severe battle, and hoped, after our
j leavy losses, he "should no longer be regarded as an
alarmist." On the 5th, the Secretary of War sent him
word that troops had been embarked for him at Baltimore,
to which he replied on the 7th, " / shall be in perfect
7 eadiness to moveforward and lake Richmond the moment
McCall readies 7iere, and the ground will admit the pas
sage of artillery" .On the 10th, General McCulFs forces
began to arrive at White House, and on the same day

* See General M^Clelian s Report, August 4, 1861*


General McClellan telegraphed to the department that a
rumor had reached him that the rebels had been re-enforced
by Beanregard that he thought a portion of Ealleck a
army from Tennessee should be sent to strengthen him
but that he should " attack with what force he had, as
soon as the weather and ground will permitbut theiv
will be a delay," he added, u the extent of whi jh no on
can foresee, for the season is altogether abnormal." The
Secretary of War replied that Halleck would be urged
to comply with his request if he could safely do so that
neither Beauregard nor his army was in Richmond, that
McDowell s force would join him as soon as possible, that
Fremont had had an engagement, not wholly successful,
with Jackson, and closing with this strong and cordial
assurance of confidence and support :

Be assured, General, that there never has been a moment when my de
iire has been otherwise than to aid you with my whole heart, mind, ai d
strength, since the hour we first met ; and whatever others may say /or
their own purposes, you have never had, and never can have, any on*
more truly your friend, or more anxious to support you, or more joyful
than I shall be at the success which, I have no doubt, will soon be achieved
by your arms.

On the 14th, General McClellan wrote to the War
Department that the weather was favorable, and thai
two days more would make the ground practicable. B
still urges the propriety of sending him more troops, bu
finds a new subject of complaint in a telegram he had
received from McDowell. The latter, on the 8th, had
received the following orders :

The Secretary of War directs that, having first provided adequately for
the defence of the City of Washington and for holding the position at
Fredericksburg, you operate with the residue of your force as speedily a?
possible in the direction of Richmond to co-operate with Major-Genera/
McClellan, in accordance with the instructions heretofore given you. Jlfs
CalVs Division, which has been by previous order directed towards Rich
mond by water, will still farm a part of the, Army of the R<tp l >ahannf>ck,
and will come under your orders when you are in a position to <:-)-oper<<ti
vith General Mc-Gldlan.


Genera] McDowell had telegraphed McClellan as fol
lows on the 10th of June :

For the third time I am ordered to join you, and hope this time to get
through. In view of the remarks made \vith reference to my leaving
you, and not joining you before, by your friends, and of something I
have heard as coming from you on that subject, I wish to say, I go with
the greatest satisfaction, and hope to arrive with my main body in tim
to be of service. McCall goes in advance by water. I will be with yo
in ten days with the remainder by Fredericksburg.

And again, June 12th :

The delay of Major-General Banks to relieve the division of my com
mand in the valley beyond the time I had calculated on, will prevent my
joining you with the remainder of the troops I am to take below at as
early a day as I named. My Third Division (McCalPs) is now on the way.
Please do me tlie favor to so place it that it may be in a jiosition to join
the others as they come fiown from Fredericksburg.

These telegrams, it will be seen, are in accordance with
the orders to McDowell of the 8th, which directed that
McCall s Division should continue to form part ol the
Army of the Rappahannock, and required that McDowell
should operate in the direction of Eichmond, to co-oper
ate with McClellan in accordance with instructions here
tofore given him.

These instructions are those of the 17th and 18th of
May, concerning which McClellan sent to the President
rhis long telegram of the 21st, in which he says :

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 29 of 42)