« PreviousContinue »
particular hurts, besides the general infirmities of age--I feel that I have become an incumbrance to the army as well as to myself, and that I ought, gvinig way to a younger commander, to seek the palliatives of physical pain and exhaustion.
Accordingly I must beg the President, at the earliest moment, to allow me to be placed on the officers' retired list, and then quietly to lay myself up-probably for ever—somewhere in or about New York. But wherever I may spend my little remainder of life, my frequent and latest prayer will be "God save the Union !" I have the honor to be, Sir, with high respect, Your obedient servant,
GEN. M'CLELLAN TO THE PRESIDENT.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 1861. The letter addressed by me under date of the 8th inst. to LieutenantGeneral Scott, commanding the United States Army, was designed to be a plain and respectful expression of my views of the measures de manded for the safety of the Government in the imminent peril that besets it at the present hour. Every moment's reflection and every fact transpiring, convinced me of the urgent necessity of the measures there indicated, and I felt it my duty to him and to the country to communicate them frankly. It is therefore with great pain that I have learned from you this morning, that my views do not meet with the approbation of the Lieutenant-General, and that my letter is unfavorably regarded by him. The command with which I am intrusted was not sought by me, and has only been accepted from an earnest and humble desire to serve my country in the moment of the most extreme peril. With these views I am willing to do and suffer whatever may be required for that service. Nothing could be farther from my wishes than to seek any command or urge any measures not required for the exigency of the occasion, and above all, I would abstain from any conduct that could give offence to General Scott or embarrass the President or any Department of the Government.
Influenced by these considerations, I yield to your request and withdraw the letter referred to. The Government and my superior officer being apprised of what I consider to be necessary and proper for the defence of the National Capital, I shall strive faithfully and zealously to employ the means that may be placed in my power for that purpose, dismissing every personal feeling or consideration, and praying only the blessing of Divine Providence on my efforts. I will only add that, as you requested my authority to withdraw the letter, that authority is hereby given, with the most profound assurance for General Scott and yourself.
GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN.
GENERAL SCOTT TO THE PRESIDENT.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 1861. SIR:-On the 10th inst., I was kindly requested by the President to withdraw my letter to you, of the 9th, in reply to one I had received from Major-General McClellan of the day before—the President at the same time showing me a letter to him from Major-General McClellan, in which, at the instance of the President, he offered to withdraw the original letter on which I had animadverted.
While the President was yet with me, on that occasion, a servant handed me a letter, which proved to be an authenticated copy, under a blank cover, of the same letter from General McClellan to the President. This slight was not without its influence on my mind.
The President's visit, however, was for the patriotic purpose of healing differences, and so much did I honor his motive that I deemed it due to him to hold his proposition under consideration for some little time.
I deeply regret that, notwithstanding my respect for the opinions and wishes of the President, I cannot withdraw the letter in question, for these reasons:
1. The original offence given to mo by Major-General McClellan (see his letter of 8th inst.) seems to have been the result of deliberation between him and some of the members of the Cabinet, by whom all the greater war questions are to be settled—without resort to or consultation with me, the nominal General-in-Chief of the Army. In further proof of this neglect-although it is unofficially known that in the last week (six days) many regiments have arrived and others have changed their position-some to a considerable distance—not one of these movements has been reported to me (or any thing else) by Major-General McClellan; while it is believed, and I may add known, that he is in frequent communication with portions of the Cabinet, and on matters appertaining to me. That freedom of access and consultation have, very naturally, deluded the junior General into a feeling of indifference towards his senior.
2. With such supports, on his part, it would be as idle for me, as it would be against the dignity of my years, to be filing daily complaints against an ambitious junior, who, independent of the extreme advantages alluded to, has, unquestionably, very high qualifications for military command. I trust they may achieve crowning victories in behalf of the Union.
3. I have, in my letter to you of the 9th inst., already said enough on the, to others, disgusting subject of my many physical infirmities. I will here only add that, borne down as I am by them, I should unavoidably be in the way, at head-quarters, even if my abilities for war were now greater than when I was young. I have the honor to be, Sir, with high respect, Your obedient servant,
A DRAFT URGED BY GENERAL MOCLELLAN.
General Scott, very soon after this correspondence, was allowed to retire from active service, in accordance with his request, and General McClellan succeeded to the command of the Army of the Potomac. His attention was first given to recovering the disaster of Bull Run, and placing the army again on a footing for the speedy resumption of hostilities. The defeat of July, and the danger with which that defeat for the moment seemed to menace the capital, had aroused the most intense enthusiasm throughout the country, and volunteers were pouring into Washington with great rapidity. Under these circumstances, General McClellan wrote to the President as follows:
WASHINGTON, August 20, 1861. SIB:-I have just received the inclosed dispatch in cipher. Colonel Marcy knows what he says, and is of the coolest judgment. I recommend that the Secretary of War ascertain at once by telegram how the enrollment proceeds in New York and elsewhere, and that, if it is not proceeding with great rapidity, drafts to be made at once. We must have men without delay. Respectfully your obedient servant,
GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, Maj.-Gen. U. S. A.
DISPATCH FROM COL. R. B. MARCY TO GENERAL M'CLELLAN.
NEW YORK, August 20, 1861. I urge upon you to make a positive and unconditional demand for an immediate draft of the additional troops you require. Men will not vol. unteer now, and drafting is the only successful plan. The people will applaud such a course, rely upon it. I will be in Washington to-morrow.
R. B. MARCY.
THE PRESIDENT'S SUGGESTION FOR AN ADVANCE IN
DECEMBER, 1861. The following is a copy of a memorandum marked by the President, as having been made by him about the first of December, 1861. It was while the army under McClellan was lying in front of Washington, and while the Government and the whole country were impatient for an advance upon the rebel army encamped at Manassas.
If it were determined to make a forward movement of the Army of the Potomac, without awaiting further increase of numbers, or better drill and discipline, how long would it require to actually get in motion ?
[Answer in pencil by McClellan: “If bridge trains ready-by December 15-probably 25th.”]
After leaving all that would be necessary, how many troops could join the movement from southwest of the river?
[Answer in pencil, “71,000.”] How many from northwest of it ? [Answer in pencil, "33,000.”]
Suppose, then, that of those southwest of the river [supplied in pencil “50,000,"] move forward and menace the enemy at Centerville ?
The remainder of the movable force on that side move rapidly to the crossing of the Occoquan by the road from Alexandria towards Richmond; there to be joined by the whole movable force from northeast of the river, having landed from the Potomac just below the mouth of the Occoquan, move by land up the south side of that stream, to the crossing point named; then the whole move together, by the road thence to Brentville, and beyond, to the railroad just south of its crossing of Broad Run, a strong detachment of cavalry having gone rapidly ahead to destroy the railroad bridges south and north of the point.
If the crossing of the Occoquan by those from above be resisted, those landing from the Potomac below to take the resisting force of the enemy in rear; or, if landing from the Potomac be resisted, those crossing the Occoquan from above to take that resisting force in rear. Both points will probably not be successfully resisted at the same time. The force in front of Centerville, if pressed too hardly, should fight back into the intrenchments behind them. Armed vessels and transports should remain at the Potomac landing to cover a possible retreat.
The following reply is in General McClellan's handwritingdated Washington, December 10, and marked confidential :"
I inclose the paper you left with me-filled as you requested. In arriving at the numbers given I have left the minimum numbers in garrison and observation.
Information recently leads me to believe that the enemy would meet us in front with equal forces nearly--and I have now my mind actually turned towards another plan of campaign that I do not think at all anticipated by the enemy, nor by many of our own people.
GEORGE B. MOCLELLAN. This is doubtless in allusion to his project of transferring the army to the York River, and advancing upon Richmond by that line.
THE POSITION OF KENTUCKY. Reference is made on page 480 to the efforts of the President to prevent Kentucky and other Border Slave States from joining the Rebel Confederacy. General McClellan, while in command of the Department of the Ohio, had entered into an agreement with General Buckner by which the substantial neutrality of that State was recognized and respected. And