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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:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, Oct. 26th, 1862. 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 more than five weeks total inaction of the army, and during which period we 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 the future, and it may have forced something of impatience into my dispatches. If not recruited and rested then, when could they ever be? I suppose the river is rising, and I am glad to believe you are crossing. A. LINCOLN.
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 further 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 Halleck in reply to remind him that Bragg was four hundred miles away, while Lee was but twenty. On the 27th the General telegraphed 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:
Your dispatch of three P. M. to-day, in regard to filling up old regiments with drafted men, is received, and the request therein shall be complied with as far as practicable. And now I ask a distinct answer to the 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 incorrectly 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 November 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 commanded 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 possibility 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 overwhelmed 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 accomplish certain political results which he and his secret advisers deemed desirable, or whether he was, by the native constitution of his mind, unable to meet the gigantic responsibilities 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 give.
Nothing can show more clearly the disposition of the President 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 before 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 precedent for your being here yourselves, and I offer, in justification of myself 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 will 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 unless I hope to produce some good by it. The only thing I think of just 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 two gentlemen are not nearly so deep in the quarrel as some pretending to be their friends. General McClellan's attitude is such that, in the very selfishness of his nature, he cannot 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 myself, 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, and those who would disparage the Secretary of War talk of those at present fit for duty. General McClellan has sometimes asked for things that the Secretary of War did not give him. General McClellan is not to blame for asking what he wanted and needed, and the Secretary of War is not to blame for not giving when he had none to give. And I say here, as far as I know, the Secretary of War has withheld no one thing at any time in my power to give him. I have no accusation against him. I believe he is a brave and able man, and I stand here, as justice requires me to do, to take upon myself what has been charged on the Secretary of War, as withholding from him.
I have talked longer than I expected to do, and now I avail myse of my privilege of saying no more.
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE WEST AND SOUTH, AND THE GENERAL CONDUCT OF THE ADMINISTRATION IN 1862.
In every other section of the country, except in Eastern Virginia, the military operations of the year 1862 were marked by promptitude and vigor, and attended by success to the National arms. Early in February a lodgment had been effected by the expedition under General Burnside on the coast of North Carolina, and on the 19th of January the victory of Mill Springs had released Western Kentucky from rebel rule, and opened a path for the armies of the Union into East Tennessee. The President's order of January 27th, for an advance of all the forces of the Government on the 22d of February, had been promptly followed by the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson on the Cumberland River, which led to the evacuation of Bowling Green, the surrender of Nashville, and the fall of Columbus, the rebel stronghold on the Mississippi. Fort Pulaski, which guarded the entrance to Savannah, was taken, after eighteen hours bombardment, on the 12th of April, and the whole west coast of Florida had been occupied by our forces. By the skilful strategy of General Halleck, .commanding the Western Department, seconded by the vigorous activity of General Curtis, the rebel commander in Missouri, General Price, had been forced to retreat, leaving the whole of that State in our hands; and he was badly beaten in a subsequent engagement at Sugar Creek in Arkansas. On the 14th, Island No. 10, commanding the passage of the Missis