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Let me now allude to some of the objections which you have urged: you say that the withdrawal from the present position will cause the certain demoralization of the army," which is now in excellent discipline and condition."
I cannot understand why a simple change of position to a new and by no means distant base will demoralize an army in excellent discipline, unless the officers themselves assist in that demoralization, which I am satisfied they will not.
Your change of front from your extreme right at Hanover Court-House to your present condition was over thirty miles, but I have not heard that it demoralized your troops, notwithstanding the severe losses they sustained in effecting it.
A new base on the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg brings you within about sixty miles of Richmond, and secures a re-enforcement of forty or fifty thousand fresh and disciplined troops.
The change with such advantages will, I think, if properly represented to your army, encourage rather than demoralize your troops. Moreover, you yourself suggested that a junction might be effected at Yorktown, but that a flank march across the isthmus would be more hazardous than to retire to Fort Monroe.
You will remember that Yorktown is two or three miles further than Fredericksburg is. Besides, the latter is between Richmond and Washington, and covers Washington from any attack of the enemy.
The political effect of the withdrawal may at first be unfavorable; but I think the public are beginning to understand its necessity, and that they will have much more confidence in a united army than in its separated fragments.
But you will reply, why not re-enforce me here, so that I can strike Richmond from my present position ? To do this, you said, at our interview, that you required thirty thousand additional troops. I told you that it was impossible to give you so many. You finally thought you would have "some chance of success with twenty thousand.. But you afterwards telegraphed me that you would require thirty-five thousand, as the enemy was being largely re-enforced.
If your estimate of the enemy's strength was correct, your requisition was perfectly reasonable; but it was utterly impossible to fill it until new troops could be enlisted and organized, which would require several • weeks.
To keep your army in its present position until it could be so re-enforced would almost destroy it in that climate.
The months of August and September are almost fatal to whites who live on that part of James River; and even after you received the reenforcement asked for, you admitted that you must reduce Fort Darling and the river batteries before you could advance on Richmond.
It is by no means certain that the reduction of these fortifications would not require considerable time-perhaps as much as those at Yorktown.
This delay might not only be fatal to the health of your army, but in the mean time General Pope's forces would be exposed to the heavy blows of the enemy without the slightest hope of assistance from you.
In regard to the demoralizing effect of a withdrawal from the Peninsula to the Rappahannock, I must remark that a large number of your highest officers, indeed a majority of those whose opinions have been reported to me, are decidedly in favor of the movement. Even several of those who originally advocated the line of the Peninsula now advise its abandonment.
I have not inquired, and do not wish to know, by whose advice or for what reasons the army of the Potomac was separated into two parts with the onemy between them, I must take things as I find them.
I find the forces divided, and I wish to unite them. Only one feasible plan has been presented for doing this. If you, or any one else, had presented a better plan, I certainly should have adopted it. But all of your plans require re-enforcements which it is impossible to give you. It is very easy to ask for re-enforcements, but it is not so easy to give them when you have no disposable troops at your command.
I have written very plainly as I understand the case, and I hope you will give me credit for having fully considered the matter, although I may have arrived at very different conclusions from your own. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. HALLECK, Gencral-in-Chief. Major-General G. B. MCCLELLAN, Commanding, etc., Berkeley, Virginia.
The order for the removal of the sick was given to General McClellan on the 2d of August. On the 7th he reported that 3,740 had been sent, and 5,700 still remained. On the 9th, General Halleck telegraphed McClellan that the enemy was massing his forces in front of General Pope and Burnside to crush them and move upon Washington, and that re-enforcements must at once be sent to Aquia Creek; to which he replied that he would “move the whole army as soon as the sick were disposed of.” On the 12th, in replyto the most pressing orders for immediate dispatch from General Halleck, who urged that Burnside had moved 13,000 troops in two days to Aquia Creek, General McClellan said if Washington was in danger, that
army could scarcely arrive in time to save it. On the 14th, he announced that the movement had commenced; on the 17th, he said he “should not feel entirely secure until he had the whole army beyond the Chickahominy, but that he would then begin to forward troops by water as fast as transportation would permit.” On the 23d, General Franklin's Corps started from Fortress Monroe ; General McClellan followed the next day, and reached Aquia Creek on the 24th, and Alexandria on the evening of the 26th of August.
On the 27th of June the President had issued an order consolidating into one army, to be called the Army of Virginia, the forces under Major-Generals Fremont, Banks, and McDowell. The command of this army was assigned to Major-General John Pope; and the army was divided into three corps, of which the first was assigned to Fremont, the second to Banks, and the third to McDowell. Upon receiving this order Major-General Fremont applied to be relieved from the command which it assigned him, on the ground that by the appointment of General Pope to the chief command, his (Fremont's) position was " subordinate and inferior to that heretofore held by him, and to remain in the subordinate rank now assigned him, would largely reduce his rank and consideration in the service." In compliance with his request, General Fremont was at once relieved.
On the 27th of August, General McClellan was ordered by General Halleck to “take entire direction of the sending out of the troops from Alexandria” to re-enforce Pope, whom the enemy were pressing with a powerful army, and whose headquarters were then at Warrenton Junction. A portion of the Army of the Potomac which arrived before General McClellan, had at once gone forward to the aid of Pope ;-of those which arrived after him, or which were at Alexandria when he arrived, not one reached the field or took any part in the battles by which the army was saved from destruction, and the capital from capture.
The extent to which General McClellan, who had the “ entire direction of the sending of these re-enforcements," was responsible for this result, is a matter of so much importance, not only to himself and the Government, but to the whole country, as to demand a somewhat detailed examination.
In his Report of August 4th, 1863, after giving a portion only of the correspondence between himself and the Government on this subject, General McClellan says:
It will be seen from what has preceded that I lost no time that could be avoided in moving the Army of the Potomac from tho Peninsula to the support of the Army of Virginia; that I spared no effort to hasten the embarkation of the troops at Fort Monroe, Newport News, and Yorktown, remaining at Fort Monroe myself until the mass of the army had sailed; and that after my arrival at Alexandria, I left nothing in my power undone to forward supplies and re-enforcements to General Pope. I sent, with troops that moved, all the cavalry I could get hold of. Even my personal escort was sent out upon the line of the railway as a guard, with the provost and camp guards at head-quarters, retaining less than one hundred men, many of whom were orderlies, invalids, members of bands, &c. All the head-quarters teams that arrived were sent out with supplies and ammunition, none being retained even to move the head. quarters camp. The squadron that habitually served as my personal escort was left at Falmouth with General Burnside, as he was deficient in cavalry.
Before taking up more important matters, it may be well to remark, that as General McClellan was in the city of Alexandria, and not in any way exposed to personal danger, it is difficult to appreciate the merit he seems to make of yielding up his personal escort, provost and camp guards, and headquarter baggage teams, when he had no use for them himself, and when they were needed for the purpose for which they are maintained-operating against the enemy, and that too in a pressing emergency. Even as it was, he seems to have retained nearly a hundred, many of whom he says were orderlies, etc., etc., around his
person. Leaving this personal matter, we come to the important question—Is it true that General McClellan left, as he avers, nothing undone in his power to forward supplies and re-enforcements to General Pope's Army? Did he, on this momentous occasion, honestly and faithfully do his whole duty in this respect, without any personal aims, or any jealousy, and with the single eye to the success of our arms, and the honor, welfare, and glory of the nation ?
He had been repeatedly urged to hurry forward the troops from the Peninsula. On the 9th of August, he was informed by General Halleck that “the enemy is inassing his forces in front of General Pope and Burnside to try and crush them and move forward to the Potomac;" and was furt!er told :
considering the amount of transportation at your disposal, your delay is not satisfactory.
move with all celerity.”
Again on the 10th, General Halleck informed him that “the enemy is crossing the Rapidan in large force. They are fighting General Pope to-day. There must be no further delay in your movements : that which has already occured was entirely unexpected, and must be satisfactorily explained. Let not a moment's time be lost, and telegraph me daily what progress you have made in executing the order to transfer your troops.” Again on the 21st, he was told “the forces of Burnside and Pope are hard pushed and require aid as rapidly as you can. By all means see that the troops sent have plenty of ammunition. We have no time to supply them; moreover, they may bave to fight as soon as they land." Whether or not the delays of General McClellan were ex