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[88] necessary steamers and sailing-craft to transport the Army of the Potomac to its new field of operations.

Even after this step had been taken, however, the President, convinced against his will, retained his aversion to the proposed movement. He repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction at the project of removing the army from Washington, and preferred that an operation should be made for opening the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad by a movement across the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, and another for the destruction of the enemy's batteries on the Potomac. General McClellan seems to have been able to overcome these objections by a recital of the same considerations he had previously presented; but, on the 8th of March, the President returned with renewed vigor to his old position, and urged him to submit his project of campaign to a council of his division commanders. The meeting was accordingly held the same day. The commanding general laid before his officers the inquiry, whether it were advisable to shift the base of operations. The plan of a change of base to the lower Chesapeake was approved by eight out of the twelve generals present.

Impressed by the emphasis of the approval which General McClellan's plan received in the adhesion thereto of two to one of the chief officers of the army, the President, nevertheless, saw fit to bind the execution of the plan, which he could now do no less than approve, by several embarrassing restrictions, contained in two important war-orders issued on the 8th of March. The first of these orders directed the organization of the Army of the Potomac into four corps, and nominated four generals to their command. These officers were not of General McClellan's selection, while their appointment excluded certain other officers upon whom he had fixed for corps commanders.1 The second of these orders

1 The officers nominated to the command of the corps into which the Army of the Potomac was divided were, Generals Keyes, Sumner, Heintzelman, and McDowell. The latter was well fitted for the command by his ability, but the relations between him and the commander were not cordial General Sumner was the ideal of a soldier; but he had few of the qualities that make a general. The others do not call for any analysis. I have, in a previous part of this volume (p. 64), set forth the views of General McClellan touching the organization of corps; and, as there remarked, his failure to make appointments to these commands at the time he was all-powerful resulted in his having forced upon him as lieutenants men he did not wish in that capacity. It would appear, from a curious piece of history detailed in the Journal of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, that it was through the pressure of the members of that committee, and of the new Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, that camps were at this time formed; and, indeed, by them, as a species of Aulic Council, that all the larger war-questions were determined.

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