The general-in-chief, in a letter to the Secretary of War on the 28th of October, says, “In my opinion, there has been no such want of supplies in the army under General McClellan as to prevent his compliance with the orders to advance against the enemy.” Notwithstanding this opinion expressed by such high authority, I am compelled to say again that the delay in the reception of necessary supplies up to that date had left the army in a condition totally unfit to advance against the enemy; that an advance under the existing circumstances would, in my judgment, have been attended with the highest degree of peril, with great suffering and sickness among the men, and with imminent danger of being cut off from our supplies by the superior cavalry force of the enemy, and with no reasonable prospect of gaining any advantage over him. I dismiss this subject with the remark that I have found it impossible to resist the force of my own convictions, that the commander of an army, who from the time of its organization has for eighteen months been in constant communication with its officers and men, the greater part of the time engaged in active service in the field, and who has exercised this command in many battles, must certainly be considered competent to determine whether his army is in proper condition to advance on the enemy or not; and he must necessarily possess greater facilities for forming a correct judgment in regard to the wants of his men and the condition of his supplies than the general-in-chief in his office at Washington City.In justice to General McClellan, and that it may be understood that he was not at all open to the charge of disobedience of orders, it should be stated that the President's peremptory instructions of October 6, to cross the Potomac and give battle to the
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