main army; for he could fall back upon other positions, and fight us again and again, should the condition of his troops permit.
If he is in no condition to fight us again out of the range of the intrenchments at Richmond, we would find it a very difficult and tedious matter to follow him up there; for he would destroy his railroad bridges and otherwise impede our progress, through a region where the roads are as bad as they well can be; and we would probably find ourselves forced at last to change the whole theater of war, or to seek a shorter land route to Richmond, with a smaller available force, and at an expenditure of much more time than were we to adopt the short line at once.
We would also have forced the enemy to concentrate his forces and perfect his defensive measures.
at the very points where it is desirable to strike him when least prepared.
On the other hand, Gen. McClellan
urged in favor of an advance by the route he preferred, that--
It affords the shortest possible landroute to Richmond, and strikes directly at the heart of the enemy's power in the East.
The roads in that region are passable at all seasons of the year.
The country now alluded to is much more favorable for offensive operations than that in front of Washington (which is very unfavorable), much more level.
more cleared land, the woods less dense, the soil more sandy, and the Spring some two or three weeks earlier.
A movement in force on that line obliges the enemy to abandon his intrenched position at Manassas, in order to hasten to cover Richmond and Norfolk.
He must do this; for, should he permit us to occupy Richmond, his destruction can be averted only by entirely defeating us in a battle, in which he must be the assailant.
This movement, if successful, gives us the capital, the communications, the supplies of the Rebels; Norfolk would fall; all the waters of the Chesapeake would be ours; all Virginia would be in our power, and the enemy forced to abandon Tennessee and North Carolina.
The alternative presented to the enemy would be, to beat us in a position selected by ourselves, disperse, or pass beneath the Caudine Forks.
Should we be beaten in a battle, we have a perfectly secure retreat down the Peninsula upon Fortress Monroe, with our flanks perfectly covered by the fleet.
During the whole movement, our left flank is covered by the water.
Our right is secure, for the reason that the enemy is too distant to reach us in time; he can only oppose us in front; we bring our fleet into full play.
He further urged, in favor of a landing at Urbana
This point is easily reached by vessels of heavy draught; it is neither occupied nor observed by the enemy; it is but one march from West Point, the key of that region, and thence but two marches to Richmond.
A rapid movement from Urbana would probably cut off Maruder in the Peninsula, and enable us to occupy Richmond before it could be strongly reenforced.
Should we fail in that, we could, with the cooperation of the navy, cross the James and show ourselves in rear of Richmond, thus forcing the enemy to come out and attack us; for his position would be untenable with us on the southern bank of the river.
Should circumstances render it not advisable to land at Urbana, we can use Mob Jack Bay; or, the worst coming to the worst, we can take Fortress Monroe as a base, and operate with complete security — although with less celerity and brilliancy of results — up the Peninsula.
The President deferred to these urgent representations, though they involved the necessity of a long delay and a heavy expense in procuring transportation by water for so great an army.
The duty of obtaining the requisite vessels was devolved on John Tucker
, Assistant-Secretary of War
; who, on the 5th of April, reported that he had chartered therefor 113 steamers, 188 schooners, and 88 barges, and that these had — within 37 days from the time he first received the order, and most of it within 30 days--transported from Perryville
, and Washington
, to Fortress Monroe
, 121,500 men, 14,592 animals, 1,150 wagons, 44 batteries, and 74 ambulances, beside pontoon-bridges, telegraph materials, and the enormous quantity of equipage, &c., required for such an army; with a total loss of 9 barges and 8 mules: the former having been driven ashore in a gale when within a few miles of Fortress Monroe