« PreviousContinue »
with the aid of the gun-boats and the reënforcements mentioned above, you can hold your present position; provided, and so long as you can keep the James River open below you. If you are not tolerably confident you can keep the James River open, you had better remove as soon as possible. I do not remember that you have expressed any apprehension as to the danger of having your communication cut on the river below you, yet I do not suppose it can have escaped your attention.
"A. LINCOLN." "P. S.- If at any time you feel able to take the offensive, you are not restrained from doing so.'
The postscript must have been read with a grim smile by those war-worn veterans, Sumner, Kearney, Heintzelman and others. Lincoln's keen sense of the ridiculous could not have overlooked the irony of the words —“If at any time you feel able to take the offensive, you are not restrained from doing so."
This whole campaign illustrates Lincoln's patience, forbearance, fidelity to, and kindness for, McClellan. His misfortunes, disastrous as they were to the country, did not induce the President to abandon him. Indeed it was a very difficult and painful thing for him ever to give up a person in misfortune, even when those misfortunes resulted from a man's own misconduct.
* Raymond's life and State papers of Lincoln, p. 295-6.
MILITARY OPERATIONS TO THE CLOSE OF 1862— POPE- MCCLEL
GENERAL POPE ASSUMES COMMAND OF THE ARMY OF VIRGINIA —
HIS ADDRESS — LEE ATTEMPTS TO OVERWHELM HIM- MCCLELLAN ORDERED TO Join POPE— His DELAY-ORDERED TO Hast
- HE LINGERS - POPE OVERWHELMED BY NUMBERS AND DRIVEN BACK TO WASHINGTON — Is RELIEVED— MCCLELLAN AGAIN IN COMMAND-LEE CROSSES INTO MARYLAND—MCCLELLAN PURSUES — BATTLES OF SOUTH MOUNTAIN - ANTIETAM— PRESI. DENT VISITS THE ARMY_URGES MCCLELLAN TO ATTACK MCCLELLAN DELAYS— HE IS RELIEVED OF COMMAND-FAILURE - BURNSIDE- FREDERICKSBURG — MOVEMENTS IN THE WEST
- BATTLE OF PERRYVILLE – CORINTH VICKSBURG STONE RIVER.
T this period, while at Harrison's Landing, Major Gene
ral McClellan found time to write and dispatch to President Lincoln, a long letter of advice upon the general conduct of the administration, civil and military.
The President seemed to think there was plenty of practical work for the General to do in his own camp, and on the 8th of July, he visited the camp on the James. He found there, an army of 86,000 effective men. The great discrepancy between the sum of losses of the army of the Potomac, and its present and aggregate number, was accounted for by the statement of McClellan on the 13th of July, that 38,000 were absent on leave by authority!
The successes at the West, as contrasted with the failures at the East, failures attributable not to a difference in the soldiers themselves, but to a difference in leadership, suggested whether by transferring to the East, some of those successful
Western Generals, better results might not follow the unsurpassed fighting of the army of the Potomac. Halleck, on the 11th of July, had been called to the position of Generalin-Chief, and returning to Washington, entered upon his duties on the 23d of July.
General John Pope, the son of Judge Nathaniel Pope, District Judge of Illinois in whose courts President Lincoln had long practiced law, was one of the most brilliant and rising young officers of the West. He had evinced great generalship at Island No. 10, and at New Madrid. Mr. Lincoln of course knew Pope well, and rejoiced in his fame, and he was also a favorite of General Halleck. He was called to Washington, and arrived about the 20th of June.
The President having seen the disastrous consequences of having too many generals, and the lack of unity of purpose and of concert between the forces of Banks, Fremont and McDowell, resolved to consolidate the Departments of the Shenandoah, the Mountain Department of Fremont, and the Department of the Rappahannock; and in pursuance of this determination, on the 27th of June, he issued an order creating the Army of Virginia, under command of General Pope; the army of General Fremont, to constitute the First Army Corps, the army of General Banks, the Second, and that of General McDowell, the Third. Thereupon General Fremont asked to be relieved, on the ground, that as General Pope was bis junior in rank he could not consistently with his honor serve under him, and his request was granted.
On the 14th of July, General Pope assumed command and issued an address to his arm y. In this address he said:
“ I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies from an army whose business it has been to seek an adversary, and beat him when found; whose policy has been attack and not defense. In but one instance has the enemy been able to place our Western armies in a defensive attitude. I
presume I have been called here to pursue the same system, and to lead you against the enemy. It is my purpose to do so, and that speedily. I am sure you long for an opportunity to win the distinction you are capable of achieving; that opportunity I shall endeavor to give you. In the meantime, I desire you to dismiss certain phrases I am sorry to find much in vogue amongst you.
“I hear constantly of taking strong positions and holding them
of lines of retreat and bases of supplies. Let us discard such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy, is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy. Let us study the probable line of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of itself. Let us look before us and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance — disaster and shame lurk in the rear. Let us act on this understanding, and it is safe to predict that your banners shall be inscribed with many a glorious deed, and that your names will be dear to your countrymen forever.”
This address was spirited and full of the ardor of a young, successful and sanguine soldier; but indiscreet, very, and when we remember that it was issued on his assuming command of the troops whose leaders he thus publicly reproached, was as bad in taste, as it was mistaken in policy. While it gave indications of a more vigorous policy, which was exceedingly gratifying to the people, it was calculated to create, and did create, an intense feeling against him among the officers of the army of the Potomac, and to some extent of the army of Virginia. It intensified the feeling, which finally resulted in the offense by McClellan and Fitz John Porter and some of their subordinates, of permitting Pope to be sacrificed without rendering him effective aid.
The failure of the Peninsula campaign did not in the least dishearten the courage of the North, nor shake the firm determination of the people to crush the rebellion. The Governors of seventeen States on the 28th of June, united in an address to the President, announcing the readiness of the people of their respective States to respond to a call for more troops, and their wish for the most prompt and vigorous measures. The President immediately issued a call for 300,000 additional soldiers. Pope desired, if McClellan was compelled to retreat, that it should be towards the North, that he might directly coiperate with him. He had but about 38,000 men; with these, he was to defend Washington, hold the Valley of the Shenandoah, and repel the expected approach of Lee. He felt the inadequacy of his force, and asked to be relieved, unwilling to risk his reputation against the fearful odds he perceived he was to encounter; and being early made conscious that lie could not have the hearty coöperation of McClellan and
his friends. The authorities declined to relieve him, and he set out to do the best he could with the force at his command.
What was to be done with the army of the Potomac? It had been visited by the President, and was visited by General Halleck. General Burnside had brought his successful force to Fortress Monroe, ready to coöperate with McClellan. It was determined after careful consideration to withdraw the army of the Potomac from the James, and concentrate it with the command of General Pope. It is not my purpose to follow in detail, the movements, skirmishes, and battles of General Pope. By cavalry raids, he undertook to destroy the railroads towards Richmond, and to hold the fords of the Rapidan and other streams, that the approaching army under Jackson and Lee must cross. He was vigilant and active, and did as much with the force under his command, as could be done. On the 14th of August, he was reenforced by General Reno's division of General Burnside's command. On the 16th, General Pope captured a letter from General Lee, to General Stuart, showing that the purpose of Lee was to mass an overwhelming force in his front, and crush him before he could be reënforced by the army of the Potomac. Knowing by the tardy movements of McClellan that he would receive no immediate aid from him, Pope retired on the night of the 18th, behind the Rappahannock. The presence of the army of the Potomac was now essential, and its absence made Pope's position critical. Why was it not at hand?
On the 30th of July, McClellan had been ordered to send away his sick and wounded to clear his hospitals preparatory to moving. This order was repeated on the 2d of August. On the 3d of August, he was directed to take immediate measures for withdrawing his army to Acquia Creek; against this he remonstrated, and delayed, until on the 6th he was advised that “the order will not be rescinded," and it was emphatically said to him, "you will be expected to obey it with all possible promptness.”
Previous to the 4th of August, he had been ordered to prepare for a prompt withdrawal to Acquia Creek-a stream which empties into the Potomac, within supporting distance to Pope. On the 6th, he was ordered to send a regiment of