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plan the news of which, McClellan says, was so cheering, and inspired him with such confidence, McClellan sees nothing but personal ambition on McDowell's part, and protests against that "spirit" in the following terms:
That request does not breathe the proper spirit. Whatever troops come to me must be disposed of so as to do the most good. I do not feel that, in such circumstances as those in which I am now placed, General McDowell should wish the general interests to be sacrificed for the purpose of increasing his command.
If I cannot fully control all his troops, I want none of them, but would prefer to fight the battle with what I have, and let others be responsible for the results.
The department lines should not be allowed to interfere with me; but General McD., and all other troops sent to me, should be placed completely at my disposal, to do with them as I think best. In no other way can they be of assistance to me. I therefore request that I may have entire and full control. The stake at issue is too great to allow personal considerations to be entertained: you know that I have none.
It had been suggested, in some of the journals of the day, that General McDowell might possibly advance upon Richmond from the north, without waiting for McClellan: it is scarcely possible, however, that any suspicion of such a purpose could have had any thing to do with General McClellan's reiterated and emphatic desire that McDowell should join him by water, so as to be in his rear, and not by land, which would bring him on his front, with his peremptory demand that all McDowell's troops should be "completely at his disposal," with his indignant protest against McDowell's personal ambition, or with his conviction of the propriety and necessity of disavowing all personal considerations for himself. But it is certainly a little singular that a commander, intrusted with an enterprise of such transcendent importance to his army and country, who had been so urgently calling for reenforcements as absolutely indispensable to success, should have preferred no to receive them, but to fight the battle
with what he had, rather than have the co-operation of McDowell under the two conditions fixed by the President, (1), that he should not deprive him of his troops, or, (2), post them SO as to prevent their being kept interposed between the enemy and Washington. Even if he could leave "others to be responsible for the results," it is not easy to see how he could reconcile the possibility of adverse results with his professedly paramount concern for the welfare of his country.
On the 20th of June, he telegraphed the President that troops to the number probably of 10,000 had left Richmond to re-enforce Jackson; that his defensive works on the Chickahominy, made necessary by his "inferiority of numbers,' would be completed the next day; and that he would be glad to learn the "disposition, as to numbers and position, of the troops not under his command, in Virginia and elsewhere,” as also to lay before his Excellency, "by letter or telegraph, his views as to the present state of military affairs throughout the whole country." To this he received the following reply:
WASHINGTON, June 21, 1862-6 P. M.
Your dispatch of yesterday, two P. M., was received this morning If it would not divert too much of your time and attention from the army under your immediate command, I would be glad to have your views as to the present state of military affairs throughout the whole country, as you say you would be glad to give them. I would rather it should be by letter than by telegraph, because of the better chance of secrecy. As to the numbers and positions of the troops not under your command, in Virginia and elsewhere, even if I could do it with accuracy, which I cannot, I would rather not transmit either by telegraph or letter, because of the chances of its reaching the enemy.' I would be very glad to talk with you, but you cannot leave your camp, and I cannot well leave here. A. LINCOLN, President.
Major-General GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN.
The President also stated that the news of Jackson's having been re-enforced from Richmond was confirmed by Gen. King at Fredericksburg, and added, "If this is true, it is as good
as a re-enforcement to you of an equal force." In acknowledging the first dispatch, Gen. McClellan said, he "perceived that it would be better to defer the communication he desired to make" on the condition of the country at large; he soon, indeed, had occasion to give all his attention to the army under his command.
Gen. McClellan had been, for nearly a month, declaring his intention to advance upon Richmond immediately. At times as has been seen from his dispatches, the movement was fixed for specific days, though in every instance something occurred, when the decisive moment arrived, to cause a further postponement. On the 18th, again announcing his intention to advance, he said that a "general engagement might take place at any hour, as an advance by us involves a battle more or less decisive." But in the same dispatch he said, "After to-morrow we shall fight the rebel army as soon as Providence will permit." But in this case, as in every other, in spite of his good intentions, and the apparent permission of Providence, Gen. McClellan made no movement in advance, but waited until he was attacked. He had placed his army astride the Chickahominy-the left wing being much the st. ngest and most compact, the right being comparatively weak ad very extended. He had expended, however, a great deal of labor in bridging the stream, so that either wing could have been thrown across with great ease and celerity. Up to the 24th of June, Gen. McClellan believed Jackson to be in strong force at Gordonsville, where he was receiving re-enforcements from Richmond with a view to operations in that quarter. But on that day he was told by a deserter that Jackson was planning a movement to attack his right and rear on the 28th, and this information was confirmed by advices from the War Department on the 25th. On that day, being convinced that he is to be attacked, and will therefore be compelled to fight, he writes to the Department to throw upon others the re
sponsibility of an anticipated defeat. He declares the rebel force to be some 200,000, regrets his "great inferiority of numbers," but protests that he is not responsible for it, as he has repeatedly and constantly called for re-enforcements, and declares that if the result of the action is a disaster, the "responsibility cannot be thrown on his shoulders, but must rest where it belongs." He closes by announcing that a reconnoissance which he had ordered had proved successful, that he should probably be attacked the next day, and that he felt "that there was no use in again asking for re-enforcements." To this the President replied as follows:
WASHINGTON, June 26, 1862.
Your three dispatches of yesterday in relation, ending with the statement that you completely succeeded in making your point, are very gratifying. The later one, suggesting the probability of your being overwhelmed by 200,000 men, and talking of to whom the responsibility will belong, pains me very much. I give you all I can, and act on the presumption that you will do the best you can with what you have; while you continue, ungenerously I think, to assume that I could give you more if I would. I have omitted-I shall omit-no opportunity to send you re-enforcements whenever I can.
Gen. McClellan had foreseen the probhbility of being attacked, and had made arrangements for a defeat. "More than a week previous," he says in his report, "that is, on the 18th," he had prepared for a retreat to the James River, and had ordered supplies to that point. His extreme right was attacked at Mechanicsville on the afternoon of the 26th, but the enemy were repulsed. The movement, however, disclosed the purpose of the rebel army to crush his right wing and cut off his communications, if possible. Two plans were open to his adoption: he might have brought over his left wing, and so strengthened his right as to give it a victory, or he might have withdrawn his right across the Chickahominy-in itself a strong defensive line-and have pushed his whole force into
Richmond, and upon the rear of the attacking force. Concentration seemed to be absolutely essential to success in any event. But he did not attempt it. He left the right wing to contend next day with 30,000 men, without support, against the main body of the rebel army, and only withdrew it across the Chickahominy after it had been beaten with terrific slaughter on the 27th, in the battle of Gaines's Mill. On the evening of that day he informed his corps commanders of his purpose to fall back to the James River, and withdrew the remainder of his right wing across the Chickahominy. On the next day the whole army was put in motion on the retreat; and Gen. McClellan found time again to reproach the Government with neglect of his army. If he had 10,000 fresh men to use at once, he said, he could take Richmond; but as it was, all he could do would be to cover his retreat. He repeated that he was "not responsible" for the result, and that he must have instantly very large re-enforcements; and closed by saying to the Secretary of War-what we do not believe any subordinate was ever before permitted to say to his superior officer without instant dismissal-" If I save this army now, I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you or to any persons in Washington: you have done your best to sacrifice this army." To this dispatch the President replied as follows:
WASHINGTON, June 28, 1862. Save your army at all events. Will send re-enforcements as fast as we can. Of course, they cannot reach you to-day, to-morrow, or next day. I have not said you were ungenerous for saying you needed reenforcements; I thought you were ungenerous in assuming that I did not send them as fast as I could. I feel any misfortune to you and your army quite as keenly as you feel it yourself. If you have had a drawn battle or a repulse, it is the price we pay for the enemy not being in Washington. We protected Washington, and the enemy concentrated on you. Had we stripped Washington, he would have been upon us before the troops sent could have got to you. Less than a