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[79] here; because, if we shall not be able to hold the Administration blameless in its dealings with General McClellan, a just verdict will at the same time not omit to estimate how severe a demand that officer—unwisely, as we must think—made on the country and the Government.

I now pass to the exposition of the cause that produced this long and unfortunate inaction, and which will be found in the already noted change of the plan of operations. There is little doubt that, at the period to which this recital has extended—namely, the close of the year 1861—General Mc-Clellan had fully resolved upon acting against the enemy by a flank movement by water instead of assailing him by direct attack; and as the adoption of the former course had a most important bearing on the relations between the Executive and the general-in-chief, I shall enter with some detail into the origin and development of that plan of campaign that removed the Army of the Potomac from the front of Washington to the Peninsula.

The first formal discussion of a movement to the Lower Chesapeake seems to have taken place at a series of warcoun-cils held at Washington early in January, 1862. It appears that at this time President Lincoln, troubled in spirit at the condition of public affairs, and further distressed at the sickness of General McClellan, summoned the attendance of two division commanders, to counsel with himself and the members of the cabinet as to the propriety of commencing active operations with the Army of the Potomac. These officers were Generals McDowell and Franklin. The former officer committed to writing the substance of what passed at these interviews, and the following is a transcript of his manuscript minutes:

January 10, 1862.

At dinner at Arlington, Va. Received a note from the Assistant-Secretary of War, saying the President wished to see me that evening, at eight o'clock, if I could safely leave my post. Soon after I received a note from Quartermaster-General Meigs, marked “private and confidential,” saying the President wished to see me.


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