Each one of us was asked in turn by the Secretary of War
our opinion of the time required to transfer the army to its new base.
The general opinion was that a month would be required, and each was asked by the Secretary
whether he was willing to have this suffering country wait a month longer before a blow was inflicted upon.the enemy.
We were then asked in turn whether we thought the army ought to be organized into army corps or not. We unanimously answered that we thought it ought to be so organized.
The President then informed us that he deferred his opinion as to the proper method of moving the army to ours.
He asked us to use all our energies to help the country out of its great dangers, and ended by saying to us, “If you are faithful to me, I, on my part, will be faithful to you.”
He then said that he should form the Army of the Potomac into four army corps, and knowing but little of the capacities of the generals suitable for the command of these corps, should assign the commands according to rank.
The meeting was then dismissed.
having evacuated his position at Centreville
on the 8th of March, the army was immediately moved to Fairfax Court-House.
Here the assignment to corps was made, and my division was assigned to General McDowell
Shortly afterward, about the middle of March, we returned to a position in front of Alexandria
to await transportation.
It was determined that the bulk of the army should be landed at Fortress Monroe
, and move up the Peninsula
between the York
and James rivers
, and that General McDowell
's corps should land on the north side of the York river
By this plan a force of over 80,000.
men would have been on the Peninsula
, and a corps of nearly 30,000 men would have been on the north side of the York river
, in position to turn Yorktown
The result of carrying out this plan would have been that Yorktown
would have been evacuated without a siege, the Williamsburg
battle would not have taken place, and the whole army would have concentrated in front of Richmond
in a few days after McDowell
's corps would have joined-without serious loss.
Communication would have easily been kept up between the two banks of the river by the squadron under Captain Missroon
, which was then in the river.
This arrangement required that General McDowell
's corps should move last, and General McClellan
, with his headquarters, left Alexandria
on April 1st, he supposing that nothing could occur to change that arrangement.
On the 3d of April I was ordered to embark my division.
About eleven o'clock in the evening I received orders to move part of the division on the next day, and to call at headquarters for further