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[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 General McClellan, very general in its terms, and proposing nothing towards the accomplishment of the purpose I had suggested to him. It became apparent that, considering the situation in which the army of the Potomac and the army of Virginia were placed in relation to each other, and the absolute necessity of harmonious and prompt cooperation between them, some military superior both of Gen. McClellan and myself should be called to Washington and placed in command of all the operations in Virginia. In accordance with those views, Major-Gen. Halleck was called to Washington and placed in general command. Many circumstances, which it is not necessary here to set forth, induced me to express to the President, to the Secretary of War, and to General Halleck, my desire to be relieved from the command of the army of Virginia, and to be returned to the Western country. My services, however, were considered necessary in the projected campaign, and my wishes were not complied with. I accordingly took the field in Virginia with grave forebodings of the result, but with a determination to carry out the plans of the Government with all the energy and with all the ability of which I was master. Previous to taking the field I issued the following orders, which set out very fully the policy which I considered advisable, and which, at the time, received the sanction of the Government, and, so far as I know, the approval of the country.

The order requiring the troops to subsist upon the country in which their operations were conducted has, with a wilful disregard of its terms, been construed greatly to my discredit, as authorizing indiscriminate robbery and plunder. Yet the terms of this order are so specific as to the manner and by whom all property or subsistence needed for the use of the army should be seized, and the order is so common in the history of warfare, that I have been amazed that it could have been so misinterpreted and misunderstood. It is, therefore, submitted here for the calm examination of the Government and of the public. I believed then, and believe now, that the policy there laid down was wise and just, and was well calculated to secure efficient and rapid operations of the army; and in case of reverse, to leave the enemy without the means of subsisting in the country over which our army had passed, and over which any pursuit must be conducted. The long delay and embarrassment of the army under Gen. Lee, in its subsequent movements toward Washington, occasioned largely by the want of supplies taken from the country under this order, fully justified its wisdom.

It was determined, before I left Washington to take the field in Virginia, that the union of the armies of Virginia and of the Potomac was absolutely essential both to the safety of the national capital and to the further successful prosecution of the operations against Richmond. The mission of the army under my command, therefore, was to cover, as far as possible, the front of Washington, and make secure the valley of the Shenandoah, and so operate upon the enemy's lines of communication to the west and north-west, as to force him to make such heavy detachments from his main force at Richmond as would enable the army of the Potomac to withdraw from its position at Harrison's Landing, and to take shipping for Acquia Creek or for Alexandria; and if, as was feared, the enemy should throw his whole force in the direction of Washington, it became my duty to resist his advance at all hazards, and so to delay and embarrass his movement as to gain all the time possible for the arrival of the army of the Potomac behind the Rappahannock. Meantime, before the arrival of Gen. Halleck, I instructed Gen. King, at Fredericksburgh, to send forward detachments of his cavalry to operate upon the line of the Virginia Central Railroad, and as far as possible to embarrass and destroy communication between Richmond and the valley of the Shenandoah. Several cavalry expeditions which that officer despatched for the purpose were completely successful, and succeeded in breaking up the railroad at several points upon several occasions. At the same time I directed

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