The Inside history of the battles around Richmond — the instructions of McDowell — his correspondence with McClellan.
The Court of Inquiry now sitting at Washington
to investigate the conduct of Gen. McDowell
, is developing some curious and interesting facts about the Yankee
campaign which ended with the battles around Richmond
We give some of them as worthy a place in the history of this war:
War Department, April 11, 1862.
To General McDowell
, Commanding Department of the Rappahannock, headquarters at Manassas
For the present and until further orders from this Department, you will consider the National Capital
as especially under your protection, and make no movement throwing your force out of a position for the discharge of this primary duty.
The President desires that you should not throw your force across the Rappahannock
at present, but that you get your bridges and transportation all ready and wait further orders.
The Secretary of War
has given me authority to inform you that you can occupy Fredericksburg
with such force as in your judgment may be necessary to hold it for defensive purposes, but not with a view to make a forward movement.
Upon being joined by Shields
's division, you will move upon Richmond
by the general route of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, co-operating with the forces under Gen. McClellan
, now threatening Richmond
from the line of the Patounkey and James rivers
While seeking to establish, as soon as possible, communication between your left wing and the right wing of McClellan
, you will hold yourself always in such a position as to cover the capital of the nation against a sudden dash by any large body of the rebel forces.
will be furnished with a copy of these instructions, and will be directed to hold himself in readiness to establish communication with your left, and prevent the main body of the enemy's army from leaving Richmond
and throwing itself upon your column before the junction between the two armies is effected.
A copy of his instructions in regard to the employment of your forces is annexed.
General: Your dispatch to the President
, asking for reinforcements, has been received and carefully considered.
The President is not willing to uncover the capital entirely, and believed that even if this were prudent it would require more time to effect a junction between your army and that of the Rappahannock
, by way of the Potomac
and York rivers
, than by a land march.
In order, therefore, to increase the strength of the attack upon Richmond
at the earliest moment, Gen. McDowell
has been ordered to march upon that city by the shortest route.
He is ordered — keeping himself always in a position to cover the capital from all possible attack — so to operate as to put, his left wing in communication with your right, and you are instructed to co-operate so as to establish this communication as soon as possible, by extending your right wing to the north of Richmond
.--It is believed that this communication can be safely established, either north or south of the Pamunkey river
In any event you will be able to prevent the main body of the enemy's forces from leaving Richmond
and falling in overwhelming force upon General McDowell
He will move with between thirty-five and forty thousand men. A copy of the instructions to Major-Gen. McDowell
are with this.
The specific task a signed to his command has been to provide against any danger to the capital of the nation.
At your earliest call for reinforcements he is sent forward to co-operate in the reduction of Richmond
, but charged, in attempting this, not to uncover the city of Washington
, and you will give no orders, either before or after your junction, which can put him out of position to cover this city.
You and he will communicate with each other by telegraph, or otherwise, as frequently as may be necessary for efficient co-operation.
When General McDowell
is in position on your right his supplies must be drawn from West Point
, and you will Instruct your staff officers to be prepared to supply him by that route.
The President directs that Gen. McDowell
retain command of the Department of the Rappahannock and forces with which he moves forward.
I have received the orders of the Secretary of War
to move with the army under my command and co-operate with yours in the reduction of Richmond
, and also a copy of his instructions to you in relation to that co-operation.
will join me to-day as soon as the necessary preparations for the march can be completed, which I think will be by the 24th instant.
We shall set forward in the general direction ordered.
There is in front of us to impede our advance the secession army of the Rappahannock
, so called, under the command of J. R. Anderson
, of the Tredegar Iron Works.
His force is from twelve to fifteen thousand men, mostly South Carolina
We should engage this force on our first day's march, as they are within six or eight miles of us, posted on and to the right and left of the F. and R. railroad, and in a position of considerable strength.
It is my purpose to turn their position by throwing a large force on their left flank, and cut off their opportunity of receiving any reinforcements from the direction of Gordonsville
, and at the same time endeavor to save the railroad bridges.
If this can be done another channel of supplies can be had for the force going against Richmond
that cannot fall giving a great relief to the Commissary
's departments of your army, and facilitate your operations.
We cannot rely on this at present, because they now occupy the line and I am told are preparing to destroy the bridges if they are forced to fall back.
I beg to ask to what extent can I rely on co-operation from you in my present movement, in the way of your cutting off the retreat of the enemy upon Richmond
, where they would add twelve thousand to the forces against you, and in saving the bridges across the Pamunkey
; and to what point on the Pamunkey
can you extend your right to join me, and to what point can you cause supplies to be placed for my command, and by what date can I count upon finding them these ready for me!
I shall require subsistence for thirty-eight thousand men, and forage for eleven thousand animals.
has been ordered by telegraph to move from Franklin
to relieve Gen. Banks
and capture or destroy Jackson
's or Ewell
You are instructed, laying aside for the present the movement on Richmond
, to put twenty thousand men in motion at once for the Shenandoah
moving on the line or in the advance of the Manassas Gap Railroad.
Your object will be to capture the forces of Jackson
, either in co-operation
with Gen. Fremont
, or in case of a want of supplies or transportation interferes with his movement, it is believed that the force with which you move will be sufficient to accomplish the object alone.
The information thus received here makes it probable that if the enemy operate actively against Banks
you will not be able to count upon much assistance from him, but may even have to release him. Reports received this moment are that Banks
is fighting with Ewell
eight miles from Winchester
Dep't of the Rappahannock,May 24, 1862.
To E. M. Stanton
, Secretary of War
The President's order has been received, is in process of execution.
This is a crushing blow to us.
I am highly gratified by your alacrity in obeying my orders.
The change was as painful to me as it can possibly be to you or to any one.
Everything now depends upon the celerity and vigor of your movement.
I obey your order immediately, for it was positive and urgent, and perhaps, as a subordinate, there I ought to stop, but I trust I may be allowed to say something in relation to the subject, especially in view of your remark that everything now depends upon celerity and vigor of movement.
I beg to say that co-operation between General Fremont
and myself to cut off Jackson
is not to be counted upon, even if it is not a practical impossibility.
Next, that I am entirely beyond helping distance of General Banks
, and no celerity or vigor will avail so far as he is concerned.
Next, that by a glance at the map will be seen that the line of retreat of the enemy's force up the Valley
is shorter than mine to go against him. It will take a week or ten days for my force to go to the Valley
by this route, which will give it good forage, and by that time the enemy will have retreated.
I shall gain nothing for you there, and shall lose much for you here.
It is therefore, not only on personal grounds that I have a heavy heart in the matter, but that I feel it throws us all back, and from Richmond
north we shall have all our large masses paralyzed, and shall have to repeat what we have just accomplished.
I have ordered Gen. Shields
to commence a movement by tomorrow morning.
A second division will follow in the afternoon.
Did I understand you aright that you wished me in accompany this expedition?
The delay of Major-General Banks
to relieve the division of my command in the valley beyond the time I had calculated on, will prevent my joining you with the remainder of the troops I am to take below at as early as day as I named.
My third division (McCall
's) is now on the way. Please do me the favor to so place it that it may be in a position to join the others as they come down from Fredericksburg
For the third time I am ordered to join you, and hope this time to get through.
In view of the remarks made with reference to my leaving you and not joining you before by your friends, and of something I have heard as coming from you on that subject, I wish to say I go with the greatest satisfaction, and hope to arrive with my main body in time to be of service.
goes in advance by water.
I will be with you in ten days with the remainder by Fredericksburg