As soon as I can see the way to spare them, I will send a good corps of troops there.
It is the key to Washington, which connot be seriously menaced so long as it is held.
At 4:45 P. M., he telegraphed again:
Your dispatch received.
Neither Franklin's nor Sumner's corps is now in condition to move and fight a battle.
It would be a sacrifice to send them out now. I have sent aids to ascertain the condition of the commands of Cox and Tyler; but I still think that a premature movement in small force will accomplish nothing but the destruction of the troops sent out. I repeat that I will lose no time in preparing the troops now here for the field; and that whatever orders you may give, after hearing what I have to say, will be carried out.
To these dispatches, Gen. Halleck
, at 8:40 P. M., responded as follows:
There must be no further delay in moving Franklin's corps toward Manassas.
They must go to-morrow morning, ready or not ready.
If we delay too long to get ready, there will be no necessity to go at all; for Pope will either be defeated or victorious without our aid. If there is a want of wagons, the men must carry provisions with them till the wagons can come to their relief.
At 10:30 of the following day1
--the day of Pope
's first indecisive battle at Gainesville
telegraphed to Gen. Halleck
Franklin's corps is in motion; started about 6 A. M. I can give him but two squadrons of cavalry.
I propose moving Gen. Cox to Upton's Hill, to hold that important point with its works, and to push cavalry scouts to Vienna, via Freedom Hill and Hunter's Lane.
Cox has two squadrons of cavalry.
Please answer at once whether this meets your approval.
I have directed Woodbury, with the Engineer brigade, to hold Fort Lyon, however.
Detailed last night two regiments to the vicinity of Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy. Meagher's brigade is still at Acquia.
If he moves in support of Franklin, it leaves us without any reliable troops in and near Washington.
Yet Franklin is too weak alone.
What shall be done?
No more cavalry arrived; have but three squadrons.
Franklin has but forty rounds of ammunition, and no wagons to move more.
I do not think Franklin is in condition to accomplish much, if he meets with serious resistance.
I should not have moved him but for your pressing order of last night.
What have you from Vienna and Dranesville?
At noon, he telegraphed again:
Your telegram received.
Do you wish the movement of Franklin's corps to continue?
He is without reserve ammunition and without transportation.
Would it meet your views to post the rest of Sumner's corps between Arlington and Fort Corcoran, where they can either support Cox, Franklin, or Chain Bridge, and even Tenallytown?
Franklin has only between 10,000 and 11,000 ready for duty.
How far do you wish this force to advance?
had already directed Franklin
to halt his command near Anandale
; and, at 1 P. M. this day, he telegraphed Gen. Halleck
I shall endeavor to hold a line in advance of Forts Allen and Marcy, at least with strong advanced guards.
I wish to hold the line through Prospect Hill, Mackall's, Minor's, and Hall's Hill.
This will give us timely warning.
Shall I do as seems best to me with all the troops in this vicinity, including Franklin, who, I really think, ought not, under present circumstances, to advance beyond Anandale?
, at 3 P. M., replied:
I want Franklin's corps to go far enough to find out something about the enemy.
Perhaps he may get such information at Anandale as to prevent his going farther.
Otherwise, he will push on toward Fairfax.
Try to get something from direction of Manassas, either by telegram or through Franklin's scouts.
Our people must move more actively, and find out where the enemy is. I am tired of guesses.
Fifteen minutes before, McClellan
had telegraphed the President
I am clear that one of two courses should be adopted: 1st.
To concentrate all our available forces to open communication with Pope; 2d.
To leave Pope to get out of his scrape, and at once use all our means to make the Capital perfectly safe.
No middle ground will now answer.
Tell me what you wish me to do, and I will do all in my power to accomplish it. I wish