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 their approval plans of campaign, which he took good care not to execute when the occasion presented itself.1 In this way he gained the support of the committee. Mr. Lincoln was beset by those who, in the name of public interest, were urging him to consolidate the two armies of Virginia and the Potomac by bringing the latter back to the line of the Rappahannock. The President resisted a long time. Indeed, on the occasion of his interview with McClellan at Harrison's Landing, the latter had so thoroughly demonstrated the importance of that position, that he went back fully determined to allow the chief of the army of the Potomac full freedom of action. But General Halleck had claimed for himself, as commander-in-chief, the exclusive direction of all the armies in the field, and Mr. Lincoln, conscious of his own incompetency, submitted to this new authority. All the measures taken for placing the army of the Potomac in a condition to resume the offensive were immediately altered. Burnside had brought seven thousand men to Fort Monroe from Newberne; four thousand more, taken away from Hunter, had joined him at Hampton Roads from Beaufort; this important reinforcement was temporarily detained, and landed on the sand-beach of Newport News; no assistance was even sent to the waters of the James to repair the ordinary losses which sickness entails upon all large armies; and McClellan, reduced to a subordinate command, remained as totally ignorant of the part
1 This is the language he used (Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, vol. i., p. 276 and following): ‘I propose to defend Washington, not by keeping on the defensive, nor by fortifying in front of the enemy, but by placing myself on his flanks, and attacking him day and night as soon as he has crossed the Rappahannock, until either his forces or mine are destroyed. With my troops thus disposed, although I have but forty-three thousand men, I should have no fear of seeing the enemy reach Washington, even though he had eighty thousand men. By placing myself upon the enemy's flanks, if he has only forty or fifty thousand men, I can beat him. If he has seventy or eighty thousand men, I shall attack his flanks and compel him to follow me into the mountains to get rid of me, which, I suppose, is precisely what you would like . . . I doubt if the enemy can come even so far as Fredericksburg.’ Question by Mr. Chandler.—‘If you had had the army which was here on the 1st of March, more than two hundred thousand strong, do you suppose that anything could have prevented you from marching from here to New Orleans?’ Answer.—‘I think not.’
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