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[304] intended for Pope. But when the disaster of the Federal army appeared at last in its true light, stripped of the covering which Pope's despatches had at first thrown around it, a new appeal was made to his patriotism and military talents. Pope, in fact, after having announced to Halleck that he had ‘completely used up the enemy without losing a gun or a wagon,’1 wrote to him a few hours later that his army ran the risk of being entirely destroyed,2 and asked him to call it back to Washington to reorganize it, and on the morning of September 2d, without giving time to Jackson to renew the attack, he fell back at the head of several columns toward the Federal capital. On the same day Mr. Lincoln decided at last to entrust McClellan with the command of the defences of Washington, the difficult task of repairing the disasters caused by the faults of another. The old commander of the army of the Potomac, going immediately to meet his companions in arms, found them marching sadly and slowly in the midst of long columns of wounded, lame, and stragglers of every kind. It was difficult for him to recognize in his routed army the fine divisions he had brought back from the borders of the James fifteen days before. He received the command on the 2d of September from the hands of Pope, who, through Halleck's favor and a just appreciation of his personal courage, was appointed to military functions in the North-west less exacting than those he had just resigned.

Nevertheless, while yielding to the necessity which had constrained it to have recourse to the only man capable of saving it, the government of the White House had not done so with a good grace. It limited itself to placing under his command the forts of Washington and the troops assembled within the range of their guns. We may suppose that, this appointment having been exacted from the authorities of the War Department by Mr. Lincoln's good sense and spirit of equity, the former sought to restrict it as much as possible. It is impossible to explain otherwise the strange fact that General McClellan, upon the verbal request of the President, resumed the command of his old army without having been regularly invested with it.

1 Pope's despatch to Halleck, Centreville, August 30, 9.45 P. M.

2 Ibid., September 1, 8.50 A. M.

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