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ments, asking that Colonel Miles be withdrawn from Harper's Ferry, and that one or two of the three army corps on the Potomac, opposite Washington, be at once sent to join him.
"Even if Washington should be taken," he said, “ while these armies are confronting each other, this would not in my judgment bear comparison" with the ruin and disaster that would follow a single defeat of this army," although, as will be remembered, when that army was under Pope, and engaged in a battle which might destroy it, he had said (Aug. 27), “ I think we should first provide for the defence of the Capital.” General Halleck replied that "the capture of Washington would throw them back six months if not destroy them," and that Miles could not join him until communications were opened. On the 14th, the battle of South Mountain took place, the rebels falling back to the Potomac, and on the 17th, the battle of Antietam was fought, resulting in the defeat of the rebel forces, although no pursuit was made, and they were allowed, during the night and the whole of the next day, quietly to withdraw their shattered forces to the other side of the Potomac. The losses he had sustained and the disorganization of some of his commands were assigned by General McClellan as his reason for not renewing the attack, although the corps of General Fitz-John Porter had not been brought into action at all. Orders were issued, however, for a renewal of the battle on the 19th, but it was then suddenly discovered that the enemy was on the other side of the Poto
General McClellan did not feel authorized on account of the condition of his army to cross in pursuit, and on the 23d, wrote to Washington, asking for re-enforcements, renowing the application on the 27th, and stating his purpose to be to hold the army where it was, and to attack the
should he attempt to recross into Maryland. He thought that only the troops necessary to garrison Washington should be retained there, and that every thing else available should be sent
to him. If re-enforced and allowed to take his own course, he said, he would be responsible for the safety of the Capital.
On the 1st of October, President LINCOLN visited the army and made careful inquiry into its strength and condition. On the 6th, he issued the following order for an immediate ad
WASHINGTON, D. C., October 6, 1862. I am instructed to telegraph to you as follows: The President directs that you cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy, or drive him south. Your army must move now, while the roads are good. If you cross the river between the enemy and Washington, and cover the latter by your operation, you can be re-enforced with thirty thousand
you move up the valley of the Shenandoah not more than twelve or fifteen thousand can be sent you. The President advises the interior line between Washington and the enemy, but does not order it. He is very desirous that your army move as soon as possible. You will immediately report what line you adopt, and when you intend to cross the river: also to what point the re-enforcements are to be sent. It is necessary that the plan of your operations be positively determined on, before orders are given for building bridges and repairing railroads. I am directed to add, that the Secretary of War and the General-in. Chief fully concur with the President in these instructions.
H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief. Major-General MOOLELLAN.
On receiving this order, Gen. McClellan inquired as to the character of troops that would be sent him, and as to the number of tents at command of the army. He also called for very large quantities of shoes, clothing, and other supplies, and said that without these the army could not move. On the 11th, the rebel Gen. Stuart, with a force of about 2,500 men, made a raid into Pennsylvania, going completely round our army, and thwarting all the arrangements by which Gen. McClellan had reported that his capture was certain. . On the 13th, in consequence of his protracted delays, the President addressed to General McClellan the following letter:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 1862. MY DEAR SIR:--You remember my speaking to you of what I called your overcautiousness. Are you not overcautious when you assumo that you cannot do what the enemy is constantly doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, and act upon the claim?
As I understand, you telegraphed Gen. Halleck that you cannot subsist your army at Winchester unless the railroad from Harper's Ferry to that point be put in working order. But the enemy does now subsist his army at Winchester, at a distance nearly twice as great from railroad transportation as you would have to do without the railroad last named. He now wagons from Culpepper Court-House, which is just about twice as far as you would have to do from Harper's Ferry. He is certainly not more than half as well provided with wagons as you are. I certainly should be pleased for you to have the advantago of the railroad from Harper's Ferry to Winchester; but it wastes all the remainder of autumn to give it to you, and, in fact, ignores the question of time, which cannot and must not be ignored.
Again, one of the standard maxims of war, as you know, is, “to operate upon the enemy's communications as much as possible, without exposing your own." You seem to act as if this applies against you, but can not apply in your favor. Change positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break your communication with Richmond within the next twenty-four hours? You dread his going into Pennsylvania. But if he does so in full force, he gives up his communications to you absolutely, and you have nothing to do but to follow and ruin him; if he does so with less than full force, fall upon and beat what is left behind all the easier.
Exclusive of the water line, you are now nearer Richmond than the enemy is by the route that you can and he must take. Why can you not reach there before him, unless you admit that he is more than your equal on a march? His route is the arc of a circle, while yours is the chord. The roads are as good on yours as on his.
You know I desired, but did not order, you to cross the Potomac below instead of above the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge. My idea was, that this would at once menace the enemy's communications, which I would seize if he would permit. If he should move northward, I would follow him closely, holding his communications. If he should prevent our seizing his communications, and move toward Richmond, I would press closely to him, fight him if a favorable opportunity should present, and at least try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. I say "try;" if we never try, we shall never succeed. If he make a stand at Winchester, moving neither north nor south, I would fight him there, on the idea that if we cannot beat him when he bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when we bear the wastage of going to him. This proposition is a simple truth, and is too important to be lost sight of for a moment. In coming to us, he tenders us an advantago which we should not waive. We should not so operate as to merely drive him away. As we must beat him somewhere, or fail finally, we can do it, if at all, easier near to us than far away. If we cannot beat the enemy where he now is, we never can, he again being within the intrenchments of Richmond. Recurring to the idea of going to Richmond on the inside track, the facility of supplying from the side away from the enemy is remarkable, as it were, by the different spokes of a wheel, extending from the hub toward the rim, and this whether you move directly by the chord, or on the inside arc, hugging the Blue Ridge more closely. The chord-line, as you see, carries you by Aldie, Haymarket, and Fredericksburg, and you see how turnpikes, railroads, and finally the Potomac by A quia Creek, meet you at all points from Washington. The same, only the lines lengthened a little, if you press closer to the Blue Ridge part of the way. The gaps through the Bluo Ridge I understand to be about the following distances from Harper's Ferry, to wit: Vestal's, five miles; Gregory's, thirteen; Snicker's, eighteen; Ashby's, twenty-eight; Manassas, thirty-eight; Chester, fortyfive; and Thornton's, fifty-three. I should think it preferable to take the route nearest the enemy, disabling him to make an important move without your knowledge, and compelling him to keep his forces together for dread of you. The gaps would enable you to attack if you should wish. For a great part of the way you would be practically between the enemy and both Washington and Richmond, enabling us to spare you the greatest number of troops from here. When, at length, running to Richmond ahead of him enables him to move this way, if ho does so, turn and attack him in the rear. But I think he should be engaged long before such point is reached. It is all easy if our troops march. as well as the enemy, and it is unmanly to say they cannot do it. This letter is in no sense an order.
A. LINCOLN. Major-Gen. MCCLELLAN.
For over a fortnight longer Gen. McClellan delayed any attempt to move his army in obedience to the President's
order. He spent this interval in complaints of inadequato supplies, and in incessant demands for re-enforcements; and on the 21st inquired whether it was still the President's wish that he should march upon the enemy at once, or await the arrival of fresh horses. He was told in reply that the order of the 6th was unchanged, and that while the President did not expect impossibilities, he was “very anxious that all this good weather should not be wasted in inactivity.” Gen. McClellan states in his report that he inferred, from the tenor of this dispatch, that it was left to his own judgment whether it would be safe for the army to advance or not; and he accordingly fixed upon the first of November as the earliest date at which the forward movement could be commenced. On the 25th he complained to the Departmeut of the condition of his cavalry, saying that the horses were fatigued and greatly troubled with sore tongue; whereupon the President addressed him the following inquiry :
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 1862. I have just read your dispatch about sore-tongue and fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything ?
The General replied that they had been engaged in making reconnoissances, scouting, and picketing, to which the President thus rejoined:
} Yours in reply to mine about horses received. Of course you know the facts better than I. Still, two considerations remain: Stuart's cavalry outmarched ours, having certainly done more marked service on the Peninsula and everywhere since. Secondly: will not a movement of our army be a relief to the cavalry, compelling the enemy to concentrate instead of "foraging" in squads everywhere? But I am so rejoiced to learn from your dispatch to General Halleck that you began crossing the river this morning.