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February 3, 1862
[General McClellan had succeeded General Scott on November 1, 1861, as Commanderin-Chief (under the President) of all the armies of the United States. On January 31, 1862, the President had issued his "Special War Order No. 1," directing a forward movement of the Army of the Potomac. This order conflicted with plans which McClellan had formed, and he remonstrated. Lincoln's reply is a good illustration of his power of compact statement, as well as of his mastery of the military situation.]
Executive Mansion, Washington, February 3, 1862. MAJOR-GENERAL MCCLELLAN :
MY DEAR SIR: You and I have distinct and different plans for a movement of the Army of the Potomac-yours to be down the Chesapeake, up the Rappahannock to Urbana, and across land to the terminus of the railroad on the York River; mine to move directly to a point on the railroad southwest of Manassas.
If you will give me satisfactory answers to the following questions, I shall gladly yield my plan to yours.
First. Does not your plan involve a greatly
larger expenditure of time and money than mine?
Second. Wherein is a victory more certain by your plan than mine?
Third. Wherein is a victory more valuable by your plan than mine?
Fourth. In fact, would it not be less valuable in this, that it would break no great line of the enemy's communications, while mine would?
Fifth. In case of disaster, would not a retreat be more difficult by your plan than mine? Yours truly,