energetic diversion possible, to draw away troops from Richmond
How well he effected this, a glance at the Federal
movements will show.
As above stated, the quiet that succeeded Kernstown
, the advance of Banks
far into the Valley
, and the movement of Jackson
to West Virginia
had calmed the apprehensions of the Federal
administration, for the time, in regard to Washington
, and the urgent requests of McClellan
, that the latter's corps should be sent forward from Fredericksburg
, were listened to. Shields
was detached from Banks
, and sent to McDowell
, and, on May 17th, the latter was ordered to prepare to move down the Fredericksburg Railroad, to unite with McClellan
On Friday, May 23d, the very day of Jackson
's attack at Front Royal
, President Lincoln
and Secretary Stanton
went to Fredericksburg
to confer with General McDowell
, found that Shields
had already reached that point, and determined, after consultation, that the advance should begin on the following Monday (May 26th). McClellan
was informed of the contemplated movement, and instructed to assume command of McDowell
's Corps when it joined him. This fine body of troops, moving from the north against the Confederate
capital, would have seized all the roads entering the city from that direction, and would have increased McClellan
's available force by from forty to fifty per cent. There was strong reason to expect that this combined movement would effect the downfall of Richmond
The Federal President
returned to Washington
on the night of the 23d to await the result.
He there received the first news of Jackson
's operations at Front Royal
the preceding afternoon.
The first dispatches indicated only an unimportant raid, and McDowell
was directed by telegraph to leave his “least effective” brigade at Fredericksburg
, in addition to the forces agreed upon for the occupation of that town.
Later, on the 24th, the news from Banks
became more alarming, and General McDowell
was dispatched that:
General Fremont has been ordered by telegraph to move from Franklin on Harrisonburg, to relieve General Banks, and capture or destroy Jackson and Ewell's forces.
You are instructed, laying aside, for the present, the movement on Richmond, to put twenty thousand men in motion at once for the Shenandoah, moving on the line, or in advance of the line, of the Manassas Gap Railroad.
Your object will be to capture the forces of Jackson and Ewell, either in co-operation with General Fremont, or, in case want of supplies or of transportation interferes with his movements, it is believed that the force with which you move will be sufficient to accomplish the object alone. * * *
The following was sent to General McClellan
at four P. M. on May 24th: