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[328] earliest date at which the forward movement could well be commenced.

The above inference is strengthened by a subsequent despatch from General Halleck, dated October 26, in which he says,--

Since you left Washington, I have advised and suggested in relation to your movements; but I have given you no orders. I do not give you any now. The Government has intrusted you with defeating and driving back the rebel army in your front. I shall not attempt to control you in the measures you may adopt for that purpose. You are informed of my views; but the President has left you at liberty to adopt them or not, as you may deem best.

On the 26th of October the army began to cross the Potomac, and by the 2d of November all the corps were on the right bank, marching to the South, on a line east of the Blue Ridge, which had been selected by General McClellan partly because it would secure him the largest accession of force and partly because the President had always been in favor of it. His purpose was to march his army to a point where it could derive its supplies from the Manassas Gap Railway, and where it could be held in hand ready for action or movement in any direction.

On the 7th of November the several corps of the army were at or near Warrenton, and, as General McClellan says, β€œin admirable condition and spirits. I doubt whether during the whole period β€” that I had the honor to command the Army of the Potomac, ”

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