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Doc. 104.-Gen. Pope's campaign in Virginia.


General Pope's official report.

New-York, January 27, 1863.
General: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the army under my command during the late campaign in Virginia.

Several of the reports of corps commanders have not yet reached me, but so much time has elapsed since the termination of the campaign, that I do not feel at liberty to withhold this report longer.

The strange misapprehension of facts concerning this campaign, which, though proceeding from irresponsible sources, has much possessed the public mind, makes it necessary for me to enter more into detail than I should otherwise have done, and to embody in the report such of the despatches and orders sent and received as will make clear every statement which is contained in it. [343]

On the twenty-sixth day of June, 1862, by special order of the President of the United States, I was assigned to the command of the army of Virginia. That army was constituted as follows:

First corps, under Major-General Fremont.

Second corps, under Major-General Banks.

Third corps, under Major-General McDowell.

In addition to these three corps, a small and unorganized force under Brig.-Gen. Sturgis was posted in the neighborhood of Alexandria, and was then in process of being organized for field service. The forces in the intrenchments around Washington were also placed under my command. All the disposable movable forces consisted of the three corps first named. Their effective strength of infantry and artillery as reported to me was as follows:

Fremont's corps, eleven thousand five hundred strong; Banks's corps, reported at fourteen thousand five hundred, but in reality only about eight thousand; McDowell's corps, eighteen thousand four hundred--making a total of thirty-eight thousand men.

The cavalry numbered about five thousand, but most of it was badly mounted and armed, and in poor condition for service. These forces were scattered over a wide district of country, not within supporting distance of each other, and many of the brigades and divisions were badly organized, and in a demoralized condition. This was particularly the case with the army corps of Major-Gen. Fremont, a sad report of which was made to me by Gen. Sigel, when he relieved Gen. Fremont in command of the corps.

My first labors were directed to the reorganization of some of the divisions and brigades of that corps, and to supplying the whole force with much of the material absolutely necessary for troops in the field. The corps of Banks and Fremont were in the valley of the Shenandoah, between Winchester and Middletown, the bulk of the forces being in the vicinity of the latter place.

One division of McDowell's corps was at Manassas Junction, with its advance thrown forward to Catlett's station. The other division was posted in the vicinity of Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburgh. When I first assumed command of these forces, the troops under Jackson had retired from the valley of the Shenandoah and were in rapid march toward Richmond, so that, at that time, there was no force of the enemy of any consequence within a week's march of any of the troops assigned to my command.

It was the wish of the Government that I should cover the city of Washington from any attacks from the direction of Richmond, make such dispositions as were necessary to assure the safety of the valley of the Shenandoah, and at the same time to so operate upon the enemy's lines of communication in the direction of Gordonsville and Charlottesville, as to draw off, if possible, a considerable force of the enemy from Richmond, and thus relieve the operations against that city of the army of the Potomac. The first object I had in view was to concentrate, as far as possible, all the movable forces under my command, and to establish them in such positions as best to effect the objects set forth. It seemed to me that the security of the Shenandoah Valley was not best attained by posting troops within the valley itself, but that the necessary results could be better accomplished, and the other objects with which I was charged best promoted, by concentrating these forces at some point or points from which, if any attempts were made to enter the valley of the Shenandoah from Richmond, I should be able, by rapid marching, to interpose between such force and the main body of the enemy, and cut off its retreat. I felt confident, and this confidence waste justified by subsequent results, that no considerable force of the enemy would attempt to enter the valley of the Shenandoah while the forces under my command were so posted as to be able without difficulty to intercept its retreat and fall upon its rear. I accordingly sent orders to Major-Gen. Sigel, commanding the First corps, to move forward from Middletown, cross the Shenandoah at Front Royal, and, pursuing the west side of the Blue Ridge, to take post at Sperryville, by passing through Luray Gap. At the same time I directed Major-Gen. Banks, crossing the Shenandoah at the same point, to move forward and take post between six and ten miles east of Sperryville. Gen. McDowell was ordered to move Ricketts's division of his corps from Manassas Junction to Waterloo Bridge, the point where the turnpike from Warrenton to Sperryville crosses the Upper Rappahannock. King's division of the same corps it was thought best to leave at Fredericksburgh, to cover the crossing of the Rappahannock at that point, and to protect the railroad there to Acquia Creek, and the public buildings which had been erected at the latter place. While I yielded to this wish of the War Department, the wide separation of this division from the main body of the army, and the ease with which the enemy would be able to interpose between them, engaged my earnest attention and gave me very serious uneasiness. While these movements were in progress, commenced the series of battles which preceded and attended the retreat of Gen. McClellan from the Chickahominy toward Harrison's Landing. When first General McClellan began to intimate by his despatches that he designed making this movement toward James River, I suggested to the President of the United States the impolicy of such a movement, and the serious consequences which would be likely to result from it, and urged upon him that he should send orders to Gen. McClellan that if he were unable to maintain his position upon the Chickahominy, and were pressed by superior forces of the enemy, to mass his whole force on the north side of that stream, even at the risk of losing much material of war, and endeavor to make his way in the direction of Hanover Court-House; but in no event to retreat with his army further to the south than the White House on York River. I stated to the President that the retreat to James River was carrying General McClellan away from any reinforcements that could possibly be sent him within a reasonable time, [344] and was absolutely depriving him of any substantial aid from the forces under my command; that by this movement the whole army of the enemy would be interposed between his army and mine, and that they would then be at liberty to strike in either direction, as they might consider it most advantageous; that this movement to James River would leave entirely unprotected, except in so far as the small force under my command was able to protect it, the whole region in front of Washington, and that it would then, therefore, be impossible to send any of the forces under my command to reenforce Gen. McClellan without rendering it certain that the enemy, even in the worst case for themselves, would have the privilege and power of exchanging Richmond for Washington City; that to them the loss of Richmond would be trifling, while the loss of Washington to us would be conclusive, or nearly so, in its results upon this war. I was so deeply impressed with these views that I repeatedly and earnestly urged them upon the President and the Secretary of War. After General McClellan had taken up his position at Harrison's Landing, I addressed him a letter, stating to him my position and the distribution of the troops under my command, and requesting him, in all earnestness and good faith, to write me fully and freely his views, and to suggest to me any measures which he thought desirable to enable me to cooperate with him, or to render any assistance in my power in the operations of the army under his command. I stated to him that I had no object except to assist his operations, and that I would undertake any labor and run any risk for that purpose. I therefore desired him to feel no hesitation in communicating freely with me, as he might rest assured that every suggestion that he would make would meet all respect and consideration at my hands, and that so far as it was in my power to do so, I would carry out his wishes with all energy, and with all the means at my command. In reply to this communication, I received a letter from

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