time Gen. Pope's forces would be exposed to the heavy blows of the enemy, without the slightest hope of assistance from you. In regard to the demoralizing effect of a withdrawal from the Peninsula to the Rappahannock, I must remark that a large number of your highest officers — indeed, a majority of those whose opinions have been reported to me — are decidedly in favor of the movement. Even several of those who originally advocated the line of the Peninsula, now advise its abandonment.Gen. McClellan forthwith commmenced embarking his sick and five of his batteries, which had been assigned to Burnside; who, having been ordered on the 1st to Acquia creek, had immediately reembarked his men, reaching his destination on the 3d, and promptly sending back his vessels to McClellan, who had been invested with complete control over the immense fleet of transports then in the Potomac, Hampton Roads, and the James. The latter commenced as if expecting to embark his entire force, including even the cavalry, at Harrison's Bar; but repeated and urgent messages from Washington, announcing1 that the Rebels were crossing the Rapidan in force, and pressing Pope, soon impelled him to move the bulk of his troops by land to Fortress Monroe; the two leading corps (Porter's and Heintzelman's), preceded by Averill's cavalry, taking that road on the 14th, crossing the Chickahominy by a pontoon-bridge at Barrett's Ferry and at Jones's Bridge; and Gen. M., with the rear-guard, breaking camp and following the army on the 16th; crossing and removing the pontoon-bridge on the morning of the 18th. The retreat was covered by Gen. Pleasanton with the remaining cavalry. Gen. Porter was under orders to halt the advance at Williamsburg until the crossing was complete; but, intercepting there a letter which apprised him that the enemy were concentrating rapidly on Pope, with intent to crush him before he could be reenforced he took the responsibility of pressing on to Newport News, which lie reached on the 18th, having marched 60 miles in three days; and on the 20th his corps had embarked and was on its way to Acquia creek. On that day, the last of the army had reached its prescribed points of embarkation at Yorktown, Newport News, and Fortress Monroe2 Heintzelman embarked at Yorktown on the 21st; Franklin at Fortress Monroe on the 22d; Keyes had been left at Yorktown to cover the embarkation, should any
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1 August 10.
2 Gen. Victor Le Due, who entered the service as Captain and A. Q. M., and who acted as Division Quartermaster throughout the retreat from before Richmond, and thence to Fortress Monroe, being promoted for eminent efficiency to be a Corps Quartermaster thereafter, thus sums up, in his private diary, under date of Sept. 1st-8th, 1862, the results of his experience and observation:
I am confident that there has been gross mismanagement in this whole affair. With all the resources s that Government places in the hands of officers, the Army of the Potomac should have been transferred from the Peninsula to Acquia creek or Alexandria and landed, and in as food condition as when they embarked, all within two weeks. Each corps as a unit should have been embarked and landed by itself, and its transportation have accompanied it, and, with the two wharves at Newport News, inconvenient as they are, three days and nights was ample time in which to put the transportation on shipboard; three days more would have been occupied in discharging it off and setting it up, and one day in transitu--seven days. Three corps could have shipped at the same time--one at Fortress Monroe, one at Newport News, and one at Yorktown. It has taken, in fact, nearly one month; and will be an entire month before all have arrived.This view assumes that sufficient transportation was always in readiness exactly where and when it was required; which is unproved.
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