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[139]

President's special War order, no. 1.)

Executive Mansion, Washington, January 31, 1862.
Ordered, That all the disposable force of the Army of the Potomac, after providing safely for the defence of Washington, be formed into an expedition for the immediate object of seizing and occupying a point upon the railroad southwestward of what is known as Manassas Junction, all details to be in the discretion of the commander-in-chief, and the expedition to move before or on the 22d day of February next.


These two orders should be considered together and carefully pondered by every candid man who desires to form a correct judgment as to the past, irrespective of political prepossessions. The outposts of an army mark the line where the sphere of party politics ends. A general is a good general or a bad general, a cautious general or a rash general; but no military critic will speak of a tory general or a whig general, a Republican general or a Democratic general. The President of the United States is a civilian, without military training or experience; and he is, moreover, of necessity, greatly occupied with important civil duties, and thus unable to give his time and thoughts exclusively to military matters. The second in date of the above orders, by a stroke of the pen, directs that a most momentous campaign should be conducted upon a plan which the commanding officer, charged with the duty and responsibility of carrying it out, had, after great deliberation.

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