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[204] was received from the Secretary of War, the material portions of which are as follows :--
The President is not willing to uncover the capital entirely; and it is believed that, even if this were prudent, it would require more time to effect a junction between your army and that of the Rappahannock, by the way of the Potomac and York Rivers, than by a land march. In order, therefore, to increase the strength of the attack upon Richmond at the earliest moment, General McDowell has been ordered to march upon that city by the shortest route. He is ordered, keeping himself always in position to save the capital from all possible attack, so to operate as to put his left wing in communication with your right wing; and you are instructed to co-operate so as to establish this communication as soon as possible, by extending your right wing to the north of Richmond.

* * * * *

When General McDowell is in position on your right, his supplies must be drawn from West Point; and you will instruct your staff officers to be prepared to supply him by that route.

The President desires that General McDowell retain the command of the Department of the Rappahannock, and of the forces with which he moves forward.

It will be borne in mind that General McClellan wished and had advised that reinforcements should be sent to him by water, as their arrival would have been more certain. Now that the James River was open, they might have been sent by that route, in which event our left flank would have rested upon that river and been protected by it. Richmond could have been approached by the James, and we should have escaped the losses and delays incurred

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