previous next

[541] escape from the influence of the military authorities around him, and even his good intentions only served to render his orders painfully contradictory. Thus, for instance, after having visited the army on the 1st of October, and having seemed satisfied with the explanations that McClellan gave him regarding his delay in the field, he sent him an order on the 6th of the same month, directing him to cross the Potomac and assume the offensive at once. He advised him at the same time to effect his passage east of the Blue Ridge, so as to keep his army between the enemy and Washington, promising him in that case a reinforcement of thirty thousand men. If McClellan, who had expressed a preference for a campaign in the valley of Virginia, persisted in attacking Lee in front, between Martinsburg and Winchester, he was at liberty to do so, but then the reinforcements drawn from the garrison of Washington would be reduced to fifteen thousand men.

What was called the garrison of Washington, so far, at least, as relates to numbers, was a real army, partly composed of old troops who had been in the peninsula campaign, and partly of recruits scarcely drilled. It numbered, as we have before said, seventythree thousand able-bodied men present for field duty. General Banks was in command. It nominally formed part of the army of the Potomac, but in reality it was under the direct orders of the President and General Halleck.

The President's plan offered General McClellan great advantages; it not only ensured him considerable reinforcements, but the sincere co-operation of the Washington authorities and the approval of public opinion, of which those authorities were then only the interpreters; and, by menacing Lee's communications, he would certainly have compelled him to evacuate the valley of Virginia. But still dreading an offensive return into Maryland on the part of his opponent, so long as that State was not protected by a rise in the waters of the Potomac, McClellan did not adopt this programme. It may be presumed that if he had known the real condition of the Confederate army he would not have entertained such fears. But whatever his plan may have been, he was not in a condition to take the field when the orders of the President reached him. The fifteen days that had elapsed since the 22d of September had been of more benefit to his adversary

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (1)
Martinsburg (West Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
McClellan (4)
Fitzhugh Lee (2)
Halleck (1)
Banks (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
October 1st (1)
September 22nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: