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and their secretaries to his own vessel, to the great indignation of the English captain and his captured passengers. This happened on the 8th of November, but was unknown in Washington or London for several days. Wilkes reported full details to Secretary Welles, who promptly responded in a complimentary letter on the last day of November. Wilkes brought his prisoners to New York, from whence they were sent to Fort Warren, in Boston harbor.
Army of the Potomac — Ball's Bluff — McClellan Succeeds Scott as General-in-Chief — Congress — Mes
sage — The Trent Trouble.
During these summer and autumn months the army at Washington was absorbing the main share of men and means. Recruits came in rapidly; even by the ist day of August the enemy was undoubtedly outnumbered, and time was precious, as Treasury ledgers proved. September found this army doubled in strength and still in camp. The enemy had advanced in force to Centreville; to Fairfax Courthouse: had, indeed, an outpost at Munson's Hill, in sight of the capitol dome. Above the city he held Leesburg and the right bank of the Potomac, and he blockaded the river below. The only direct railway communication with the West was broken at Harper's Ferry. An invasion of Maryland was menaced both by the upper and the lower Potomac.
Six days after McDowell's defeat, McClellan found in camp about fifty thousand men. Scott believed the capital in no danger, and McClellan at the time estimated that twenty thousand men would suffice for its security. When, six months later, he wrote, “ The city was almost in a condition to have been taken by a dash of a regiment of cavalry,” his language was misleading,
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unless understood as extravagantly expressing an engineer's estimate of the weakness of the city's defensive works. The fortifications begun under the direction of Chief Engineer Barnard before McClellan came to Washington were so rapidly pushed that thirty-two forts were completed before the end of September. Two months later there were forty-eight, and early in January the whole number designed on both sides of the river — in all fifty-two.
Two interesting incidents of the first few days after McClellan's arrival, and before he was invested with the command of all the forces reorganized as the Army of the Potomac,, namely, his all-embracing plan submitted to the President, and his collision with his superior officer, the Lieutenant-General, — were little known to the public at the time, and have received slight attention since. Lincoln was anxious to learn the views of his new General concerning the business intrusted to him, and early made inquiry to that end, probably expecting no elaborate plans, and least of all a survey of the field at large. In response, however, McClellan on the 4th of August presented a “memorandum” of generous dimensions, and so broad in scope as to include a treaty with Mexico, authorizing troops from our Pacific States to land at the port of Guaymas and march across Mexican territory to Texas and New Mexico. This would not only help to defeat the rebel designs in that region, but also to protect and develop “the latent Union and free-State sentiment well known to predominate in Western Texas, and which, like a similar sentiment in West Virginia, will, if protected, ultimately organize that section into a free State.” He noted the impor
tance of reopening the Mississippi River and its “tendency upon all questions connected with cotton," urging that it had “become necessary to crush a population sufficiently numerous, intelligent and warlike to constitute a nation,” and continued:
The authority of the Government must be supported by overwhelming physical force. Our foreign relations and financial credit also imperatively demand that the military action of the Government should be prompt and irresistible. The rebels have chosen Virginia as their battlefield, and it seems proper for us to make the first great struggle there. But while thus directing our main efforts, it is necessary to diminish the resistance there offered us, by movements on other points both by land and water.
He advises “that a strong movement be made on the Mississippi, and that the rebels be driven out of Missouri,” and suggests the seizure of “the railroads leading from Memphis to the East" by a movement into Eastern Tennessee, sustaining the Union people there and receiving their co-operation. Getting nearer to his own field, he thinks that “at as early a day as practicable, it would be well to protect and reopen the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad,” and that sufficient garrisons should occupy Baltimore and Fortress Monroe. Calculating in advance of experience, he judges that —
The importance of Harper's Ferry and the line of the Potomac in the direction of Leesburg will be very materially diminished so soon as our force in this vicinity becomes organized, strong, and efficient, because no capable General will cross the river north of this city, when we have a strong army here to cut off his retreat.
To “crush the rebellion at one blow” — to “terminate the war in one campaign" — his estimates call for two hundred and seventy-three thousand soldiers (at the East) for “the main army of operations," and in addition, ten thousand to protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railway; while “ five thousand will garrison Baltimore, three thousand Fort Monroe, and not more than twenty thousand will be necessary at the utmost for the defense of Washington.” *
As to the West, he thinks that few more troops will be needed in Missouri; that if Kentucky “assume the right position, not more than twenty thousand will be needed, together with those that can be raised in that State and Eastern Tennessee, to secure the latter region and its railroads, as well as ultimately to occupy Nashville”; and that the troops already in Western Virginia, “ with not more than five to ten thousand from Ohio and Indiana, should, under proper management, suffice for its protection.” He then tells what he would do with “the main army of operations":
I propose, with the force which I have requested, not only to drive the enemy out of Richmond, but to occupy Charleston, Savannah, Montgomery, Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans; in other words, to move into the heart of the enemy's country and crush the rebellion in its very heart.
To lighten the burdens of the Treasury, he suggests “only partial payments to our troops when in the enemy's country,” and giving “the obligations of the United States for such supplies as may be there obtained.”
This comprehensive and very interesting “memo
* After the completion of the fortifications around Washington, a few months later, he estimated that to man the fifty-two forts would require 35,000.