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Chapter 4:

  • Arrival at Washington
  • -- reception by Gen. Scott and the President -- condition of the capital -- takes command of the division of the Potomac -- State of the army -- numbers, increase, and position of troops.

I reached Washington late in the afternoon of Friday, July 26. I called on Gen. Scott that evening, and next morning reported to the adjutant-general, who instructed me to call upon the President, by whom I was received cordially and informed that he had placed me in command of Washington and all the troops in its vicinity. He directed me to return to the White House at one o'clock to be present at a cabinet meeting. I called again on Gen. Scott, then commanding the army of the United States, and, after conversing with him for some time on the state of affairs, casually remarked that I must take my leave, as the President had desired me to attend a cabinet meeting at one o'clock. Upon this the general became quite indignant and said that it was highly improper that I should receive such an invitation to his exclusion, and insisted upon keeping me until too late to attend the meeting. He then instructed me to ride around the city immediately and send stragglers back to their regiments. The general appeared to know and think very little about the defensive condition of the city and its approaches, and was more concerned about the disorganized condition of the stragglers in the city itself. I explained to the President later in the day the cause of my apparent lack of courtesy, at which he seemed more amused than otherwise.

After leaving the general I rode around the outskirts of the city on the Maryland side towards Tennallytown, Seventh Street, etc., and examined some of the camps, but did not devote myself individually to the police work of picking up drunken stragglers. I found no preparations whatever for defence, not even to the extent of putting the troops in military positions. Not a regiment was properly encamped, not a single avenue of approach guarded, All was chaos, and the streets, hotels, and bar-rooms [67] were filled with drunken officers and men absent from their regiments without leave — a perfect pandemonium. Many had even gone to their homes, their flight from Bull Run often terminating in New York, or even in New Hampshire and Maine. There was really nothing to prevent a small cavalry force from riding into the city. A determined attack would doubtless have carried Arlington Heights and placed the city at the mercy of a battery of rifled guns. If the secessionists attached any value to the possession of Washington, they committed their greatest error in not following up the victory of Bull Run.1

On the 25th had been issued the order constituting the Division of the Potomac and assigning me to its command. The division consisted of the Department of Northeast Virginia, under McDowell, which comprised all the troops in front of Washington on the Pennsylvania bank of the river, and the Department of Washington, under Mansfield, which comprised all the troops in Washington and its vicinity on the Maryland side. Neither of these officers seemed pleased with the new arrangement, more particularly Mansfield.

On the 27th I assumed command and lost no time in acquainting myself with the situation and applying the proper remedies. On the next day, Sunday, I rode along the lines on [68] the Virginia side, beginning at Gen. W. T. Sherman's position opposite Georgetown. I found Sherman somewhat nervous. He attempted to dissuade me from passing outside of his pickets, believing the enemy to be close at hand. As that was precisely what I wanted to know, however, I did ride some distance beyond the pickets and found no enemy.

The condition of things on the Virginia side was not much better than on the other. The troops were on the river-banks or on the high ground immediately overlooking them. Few were in condition to fight, and but little had been done in the way of entrenching the approaches.

Fort Ellsworth, near Alexandria; Forts Runyon and Allan, at the end of the Long Bridge; Fort Corcoran, at the head of Aqueduct Bridge, with one or two small adjacent batteries, comprised all the works completed on the south side. A small battery at the Maryland end of the Chain Bridge was the only one on the Washington side of the river. Two or three small entrenchments had just been commenced on Arlington Heights. These detached works simply covered some of the principal direct approaches from the Virginia side, but in no sense formed part of any general defensive line.

The condition of affairs which thus presented itself to me upon assuming command was one of extreme difficulty and fraught with great danger. The defeated army of McDowell could not property be called an army — it was only a collection of undisciplined, ill-officered, and uninstructed men, who were, as a rule, much demoralized by defeat and ready to run at the first shot. Positions from which the city could be commanded by the enemy's guns were open for their occupation. The troops were as insufficient in number as in quality. The period of service of many regiments had expired, or would do so in a few days. There was so little discipline that officers and men left their camps at their own will, and, as I have already stated, the city was full of drunken men in uniform. The executive was demoralized; an attack by the enemy was expected from hour to hour; material of war did not exist in anything like sufficient quantities; and, lastly, I was not supreme and unhampered, but often thwarted by the lieutenant-general.

I may be permitted to say that my arrival was hailed with delight by all, except, perhaps, the two generals whom I superseded; [69] and that the executive and the country soon passed from a state of abject despair to confidence, as will appear from the newspapers of the time.

The first and most pressing demand upon me was the immediate safety of the capital and the government. This was provided for by at once exacting the most rigid discipline and order; by arresting all ignorant officers and men, and sending them back to their regiments; by instituting and enforcing strict rules in regard to permission for leaving the camps; by prohibiting civilians and others not on duty from crossing the river or visiting the camps without permits from headquarters; by organizing permanent brigades under regular officers, and by placing the troops in good defensive positions. I threw them further out from the city, so as to have space in rear for manoeuvring, and selected positions which commanded the various avenues of approach to the city and enabled the different brigades to afford reciprocal support.

I lost no time in acquiring an accurate knowledge of the ground in all directions, and by frequent visits to the troops made them personally acquainted with me, while I learned all about them, their condition and their needs, and thus soon succeeded in inspiring full confidence and a good morale in place of the lamentable state of affairs which existed on my arrival.

Thus I passed long days in the saddle and my nights in the office — a very fatiguing life, but one which made my power felt everywhere and by every one. There were about one thousand regular infantry with McDowell at Arlington. These, with a regular battery and a squadron of regular cavalry, I at once brought to the city and employed as a provost-guard, with the most satisfactory results. It was through their discipline, steadiness, and devotion that order was so promptly established. The following order explains itself:

General order no. 2.

headquarters, division of the Potomac, Washington, July 30, 1861.
The general commanding the division has with much regret observed that large numbers of officers and men stationed in the vicinity of Washington are in the habit of frequenting the streets [70] and hotels of the city. This practice is eminently prejudicial to good order and military discipline, and must at once be discontinued. The time and services of all persons connected with this division should be devoted to their appropriate duties with their respective commands. It is therefore directed that hereafter no officer or soldier be allowed to absent himself from his camp and visit Washington except for the performance of some public duty or for the transaction of important private business, for which purpose written permits will be given by the commanders of brigades. The permit will state the object of the visit. Brigade commanders will be held responsible for the strict execution of this order. Col. Andrew Porter, of the 16th U. S. Infantry, is detached for temporary duty as provost-marshal in Washington, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly. Col. Porter will report in person at these headquarters for instructions.

By command of Maj.-Gen. McClellan.


S. Williams, Asst. Adjt.-Gen.

The effect of all this was that on the 4th of August I was able to write to one of my family: “I have Washington perfectly quiet now; you would not know that there was a regiment here. I have restored order very completely already.”

In re-arranging the posts and organization of the troops I brought over to the Washington side of the river those regiments which had been most shaken and demoralized by the defeat of Bull Run, and retained them there, with the newly arriving regiments, until in fit condition to be trusted on the side towards the enemy. My report (made in 1863) gives in sufficient detail the measures taken to expedite the instruction, discipline, and equipment of the new regiments on the Washington side before assigning them to brigades in front of the enemy. I also proceeded at once to reorganize the various staff departments on a footing commensurate with the actual and future condition of affairs, and used every effort to hasten the arrival of new regiments, as well as the manufacture and purchase of war material of all kinds.

Fortunately I had some excellent officers at my disposal and at once made use of them.

At this period I committed one of my greatest errors — that was in retaining Gen. McDowell on duty with the troops under my command. I knew that he had been a close student of military affairs, and thought that he possessed sufficient ability to be useful in a subordinate capacity. Moreover, I pitied him extremely, [71] and thought that circumstances had as much to do with his failure at Bull Run as any want of ability and energy on his part. I knew that if I sent him away he would be ruined for life, and desired to give him an opportunity to retrieve his military reputation. I therefore left him in the nominal command on the Virginia side of the river until the order forming the Army of the Potomac was issued; he doing some little bureau work and retaining a large staff, while I performed the real military labor demanded by the occasion. I was sadly deceived. He never appreciated my motives, and felt no gratitude for my forbearance and kindness. Subsequent events proved that, although in some respects a very good bureau officer and a fair disciplinarian and drill-officer for a school of instruction, he lacked the qualities necessary for a commander in the field. After Pope's campaign it was not safe for McDowell to visit the camps of his troops; the men declared that they would kill him. I have long been convinced that he intrigued against me to the utmost of his power. His conduct towards Fitz-John Porter on the second Bull Run campaign, his testimony in the latter's trial, and subsequent rehearing in 1880, show what manner of man he was. In all human probability I should have been spared an infinite amount of trouble had I relieved him upon reaching Washington: and allowed him to sink at once into obscurity.

When I resumed command it was clear that a prompt advance was wholly impracticable; for, as I have already stated, the mass of the troops placed under me were utterly demoralized and destitute of organization, instruction, discipline, artillery, cavalry, transportation. I repeat that it was not worthy to be called an army. The request to bring with me, or cause to follow, a few of the victorious regiments from West Virginia was denied. As it was, nothing remained but to create an army and material as rapidly as possible from the very foundation.

The result of the first Bull Run had changed the conditions of the problem and complicated them exceedingly. In West Virginia I had raw troops against raw troops; my opponents had all the advantages of knowledge of the ground, strong positions, and a country peculiarly adapted to the defensive. Yet I did not hesitate to attack, and gained complete success. I felt that against troops who had never been under fire and were not particularly well commanded the offensive offered great advantages, [72] and also felt entire confidence in my ability to handle my men, many of whom had attained a certain rough kind of discipline at Camp Dennison. But at Washington everything was different. The enemy not only had all the advantages of position, of entrenchments, of the morale resulting from success, but his discipline and drill were far better than our own. It would have been madness to renew the attempt until a complete change was made, for all the advantages of a sudden movement had been lost. The problem now was to attack victorious and finely drilled troops in entrenchment. I knew that this could be done only by well-organized and well-drilled troops, well supplied with artillery and other arms of service; the future of the war proved the correctness of this view. I had, therefore, no choice but to create a real army and its material out of nothing. The contest had already assumed such a phase that large masses were necessary to decide it. To use such masses they must be organized and instructed. Perhaps even then a few thousand regulars would have decided the war. But we had them not!

Let those who criticise me for the delay in creating an army and its material point out an instance when so much has been done with the same means in so short a time.

Not only was it necessary to organize, discipline, and drill the troops, but the immense labor of constructing the fortifications required to secure the city in the absence of the army was also to be performed by the troops. Not only did this consume much time and greatly retard the preparation of the army for the field, but it tied down the troops to the line of the defences, and rendered it impossible to take up a more advanced position until the works were finished.

Before my arrival no one had contemplated the complete fortification of the city. I at once conceived the idea and carried it into effect; for I saw immediately that the safety of the capital would always be a great clog on the movements of the army, unless its security were amply guaranteed by strong entrenchments. I cannot speak in too high terms of the cheerfulness, zeal, and activity with which these raw troops performed this arduous and disagreeable labor. They gave thus early an earnest of what might be expected from them under more trying circumstances.

The system adopted was that of detached earthworks. The [73] most important points were occupied by large bastioned forts closed at the gorge, with magazines, platforms, etc.; the scarps and counterscarps often reveted with timber, the parapets usually sodded. The intermediate points were occupied by lunettes, redoubts, batteries, etc., and in a few cases these were united by infantry parapets. The entire circumference of the city was thus protected. Towards Manassas the very important advanced points of Upton's and Munson's Hills were held by strong works, with some small batteries near by. This was the key to the approach in that direction.

In weighing the magnitude of the task of organizing the Army of the Potomac it must be borne in mind that the deficiency of instructed officers was almost as great as that of well-instructed non-commissioned officers and soldiers.

It is important to emphasize the condition of affairs at this juncture. If the enemy advanced in fair condition and reasonable force direct upon Washington, there were no means of preventing his occupation of Arlington Heights and the bombardment of the city. If he availed himself of the low water in the Potomac and crossed at or above the Great Falls, at the same time making a feint on the direct approaches, he could enter the city unopposed. For when I arrived there were neither entrenchments nor troops in position on the Maryland side, and Banks's command, near Harper's Ferry, was so distant, so unorganized, demoralized, and unfit to march or fight, that it could exercise no influence on the result.

Soon after my arrival I called upon Gen. McDowell, then in command of all the troops on the Virginia side, for a report as to the condition of his command. On the 30th of July he reported as follows:

An inspection commenced yesterday by all the regular officers who were available, and is still going on, of all the regiments in this department. When the reports are made I shall be able to give something more than a mere opinion as to their condition to take the field. In the absence of any precise information I should say that but few regiments, if any, are in such condition at this time. Those who were in the last movement are not yet recovered, and the others are raw. Such as they are, about twenty regiments could be set in motion in two or three days. But few would have any organization with which they would be at all acquainted, and would have but little confidence in themselves [74] or each other. But one battery of artillery ready; the others are refitting. The three companies of cavalry are a good deal run down. One New York regiment (Quimby's) is in a state of utter demoralization and asking to be discharged. In another (Bruin's) all the field officers tendered their resignation. An inspection of Quimby's, made by Major Wadsworth, seems to show that we have but one ultimatum — to dissolve it as worthless. I shall be at your headquarters this P. M.

On the 2d of August I received from Col. F. J. Porter, who had been on duty with Gen. Patterson, and continued with his successor, Gen. Banks, a letter from Sandy Hook, under date of the 1st of Aug., from which I give the following extract:

That the government should not suffer by my withdrawal from this command, on the arrival of Gen. Banks I consented to remain, and had myself assigned to the position of acting inspector-general, in order to accomplish what no one else here can — a reorganization of this demoralized force. I think within a week I shall have placed it in excellent order for brigade commanders to perfect. My occupation will then be gone, unless this force is to take the initiative and enter on an active campaign. If to be active, with confidence reposed in me, I can be of much use and render the country essential services. But can I do so in other positions and more satisfactory to myself? Should the campaign turn out as the last, the odium which has been thrown unjustly upon Patterson will be reflected upon me and his other advisers. Time and orders from high authority will show he was right, and the country should be thankful. But I cannot bear another such, and see my companions, my juniors, rising to distinction and position, while I must plod away in a beaten and sandy track. . . .

Every one in Washington realized the imminent danger of its capture, and none dreamed of a renewal of the attack upon Manassas under the circumstances and with the means at hand. They were but too well satisfied with the assurance that the measures I took would secure order and preserve the capital from insult or capture. A new advance made soon after the first would, if unsuccessful, have been certainly followed by the prompt occupation of Washington by the enemy. Until the new army was in such condition as to make success certain, it would have been unpardonable folly to advance without leaving Washington so well entrenched and garrisoned as to afford a safe retreat to the entire army if repulsed. This was impracticable [75] when I assumed command, and the Confederates, while receiving large accessions of force, lost no time in constructing strong entrenchments at Centreville, Manassas, etc.

There was so much misunderstanding and there were so many misrepresentations during the war as to the effective strength of the Army of the Potomac that it is necessary to explain briefly the manner in which the returns were made up.

They showed--

1st. The number of officers and men “present for duty.”

2d. The number of officers and men “present sick.”

3d. The number of officers and men “present in arrest.”

4th. The total present, this being the sum of the three preceding items.

5th. The number absent.

6th. The total present and absent, made up by taking the sum of items 4th and 5th.

It is, of course, clear that the first item comprises all the officers and men who are effective for the immediate work of the army, yet-either through ignorance, or to injure me by exaggerating the force at my disposal — often the “total present,” often the “aggregate present and absent,” was given, by those occupying official positions, as the effective strength of the Army of the Potomac. In the latter case this sometimes involved an exaggeration of over sixty per cent; as, for example, on July 10, 1862, the total present for duty was 89,549, while the aggregate present and absent was 144,886.

Nor, as our returns were made during the first two years of the war, were the numbers given as “present for duty” by any means a true measure of the effective force, because one of the instructions for making out the returns was that “all officers and enlisted men present on extra or daily duty will be borne in the column of ‘present for duty.’ ” Therefore there were included among the “present for duty” all camp, train, and special guards, all men detailed for duty as teamsters, laborers, and otherwise, in the headquarters, commissary, engineer, medical, and ordnance departments; all orderlies, cooks, officers' servants — in short, those who form no part of the fighting strength of an army, and who in every European and other service, except our own, are borne in a column as present on special extra or daily duty, so that the column of “present for duty” then gives [76] the actual available fighting force. After careful study, and with ample means to reach accurate results, Gen. A. A. Humphreys estimates the number of extra-duty officers and men, not including camp-guards, orderlies, cooks, etc., etc., who were not in the ranks of the Army of the Potomac at all on the 20th of June, 1862, to be from 17,000 to 18,000 out of 105,000, or about one-sixth. This is, doubtless, very near the truth, and not above it; so that, as the Confederates reported only the officers and men in ranks as present for duty, there must always be deducted from the “present for duty” strength of the Army of the Potomac during the first two years of the war about one-sixth to make a fair comparison with the enemy. But, allowing for camp-guards and officers' servants, etc., a deduction of one-fifth at least should be made.

On the 1st of Aug., 1861, I had, according to the returns, less than 50,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, 650 artillerists with 30 guns, present. Bearing in mind what has just been stated, and making the proper deduction for the sick, in arrest, and on extra duty, it appears that there were certainly not more than 37,000 infantry in the ranks. The term of service of many of these regiments was about expiring, and they were gradually replaced by perfectly raw new regiments. On the 19th of Aug. I had less than 42,000 effective of all arms, such as they were; and the most necessary defences still required about a week to enable them to resist assaults with tolerable certainty. On the 20th of Aug. I had 80 guns and less than 1,200 cavalry. On the 25th of Aug. I had about 50,000 effective of all arms and perhaps 100 guns. The return for Aug. 31, 1861, shows that, excluding Gen. Dix's command, there was an “aggregate present” of 76,415 of all arms. This comprised Banks's command near Harper's Ferry and above, and Stone's corps of observation at Poolesville. It included the sick, those under arrest, and all extra-duty men. Making the proper deduction on these accounts, the effective force, including Banks's and Stone's, is reduced to 58,680 officers and men of all arms; many of these being still unfit for service through lack of discipline and instruction, unserviceable arms, etc. This is just about the number of effectives reported by the Confederates as composing Johnston's command.

After providing, even very insufficiently, for watching the Potomac and guarding the communication with Baltimore, there [77] would not have been left more than 45,000 effectives for the garrison of Washington and active operation. Certainly not 10,000 of these troops were in any condition to make an offensive movement, nor were they sufficient in numbers to furnish an active column which would give the slightest hope of success after making even a small provision for the safety of the capital.

On the 15th of Oct., 1861, the troops under my command “present for duty” numbered133,200
Of these there were unarmed and unequipped12,000
Deduct one-sixth for extra — duty men, etc.,20,200
Total effectives, without regard to instruction,101,000
Gen. Dix was charged with the defence of Baltimore, occupation of the east shore, garrison of Fort Delaware, the communications to Philadelphia, and the immediate approaches to Baltimore, including Annapolis. In view of the strong secessionist feeling in his district it would have been dangerous to leave him with less than10,000 
The upper Potomac, from Washington to Cumberland, a distance of more than one hundred and sixty miles by the river, could not safely be watched and guarded by less than15,000 
The lower Potomac, the south part of Maryland, and communication with Baltimore required at least5,000 
For the garrison of Washington and its defences, and securing the flanks and communication of the main army during its advance on Manassas, a very moderate estimate would have been30,00060,000
Leaving for the active column41,000

In estimating the force of the above detachments it must be remembered that I was obliged to regard the apprehensions of the administration and the state of feeling in Maryland, as well as the purely military considerations. I was not then in command [78] of all the armies of the United States, far less free to disregard the administration. Had I been chief of the state the conditions of the problem would have been very different. In that case, with the discipline, instruction, and armament sufficiently advanced — which was not the fact — I would not have hesitated to throw Banks on Winchester with 15,000 men, to act on the left flank of the enemy at Manassas, and, reducing the garrison of Washington to 10,000 men, advance on Manassas with 60,000 men; that would have been the best that could have been done, and in that event 10,000 must have watched the line of the Occoquan, leaving 50,000 available for the attack on Manassas.

On the 27th of Oct. the “present for duty” were147,695
Deduct unarmed and unequipped,13,410
Deduct one-sixth for extra duty, etc.,22,360
Deduct garrisons and corps of deserters,60,000
Leaving available for active operations,51,925
On the 4th of Nov. the “present for duty” were152,748
Deduct unarmed and unequipped,8,706
Deduct one-sixth for extra-duty men, etc.,24,007
Garrisons, etc.,60,000
For active operations, officers and men of all arms,60,035

Up to the beginning of November, and still later, many of the infantry were insufficiently drilled and disciplined, and they were to a considerable extent armed with unserviceable weapons. Few of the cavalry were completely armed, and most of the volunteer cavalry were still very inefficient. The artillery numbered 228 guns, but many of the batteries were still entirely unfit to take the field. Transportation was still lacking for any extended movements. [79]

On the 1st of Dec. there were “present for duty” 169,452
Of these there were unequipped and unarmed, at least5,000
Deduct extra-duty men, etc.,27,600
Deduct garrisons, etc., as before,60,000
For active operations,76,852

On the 27th of Aug., when I assumed command of the Division of the Potomac, Gen. Banks had just been relieved by Gen. Dix in the command of the Department of Maryland, and in his turn relieved Gen. Patterson--whose term of service expired on that day — in the command of the Department of the Shenandoah. On the 1st of Aug. Gen. Banks's headquarters were at Sandy Hook, in the immediate vicinity of Harper's Ferry. In consequence of the expiration of service of the three-months regiments this command was in a state of disorganization for the moment.

As the geographical Division of the Potomac extended along that river somewhat beyond the Monocacy, and it fell within my province to guard that part of the river, within two or three days after assuming command I organized a brigade of four regiments, under Gen. C. P. Stone, and ordered him to the vicinity of Poolesville to observe and guard the Potomac between the Great Falls and the limits of Gen. Banks's command. On the 2d of Aug. the seven regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, then arrived, were organized as a brigade under Gen. G. A. McCall, and ordered to Tennallytown to guard the important roads meeting at that point, and to observe the river as far as the Great Falls. At this place the brigade was in position to support Stone and the troops at the Chain Bridge, and, in case of necessity, would rapidly move by the Aqueduct Bridge to support the troops at Fort Corcoran and Arlington Heights. On the 1st the two regiments at the Chain Bridge were placed under the command of Col. W. F. Smith, and within three days his command was increased to four regiments of infantry, one battery, and one company of cavalry. At the same time Couch's brigade was posted at the Toll-Gate on the Seventh Street road, where the Milkhouse Ford and Blagden's Mill [80] roads intersect it. Hooker's brigade was posted on the Bladensburg road, near the position afterwards entrenched. Gen. W. T. Sherman's brigade, reinforced by three regiments of infantry, with one battery and one company of regular cavalry, occupied Fort Corcoran, at the head of the Georgetown Aqueduct Bridge. Gens. Hunter's and Keyes's brigades held the Arlington Heights. Col. Richardson's brigade was posted in advance of the Long Bridge, with one regiment in Fort Runyon. Near this were a couple of light batteries under Col. H. J. Hunt, ready to move whenever required. Col. Blenker's brigade was in advance of Roach's Mills, in the valley of Four-Mile Run. Gens. Franklin's and Heintzelman's brigades were in front of Alexandria, in the vicinity of the Seminary. Kearny's brigade was at Cloud's Mills, on the Annandale turnpike. One regiment was stationed at Fort Ellsworth, immediately in front of Alexandria.

I had thus provided against all eventualities as well as the means in my possession permitted. If the enemy confined himself to a direct advance the probable points of attack were held by eight brigades, so posted that they could render mutual assistance, if all were not simultaneously assailed in force, while the brigades of McCall, Couch, and Hooker could move by good roads to support them; Hooker having about five miles to march to the Long Bridge, Couch about six to the Long Bridge, the Aqueduct, or to the Chain Bridge, and McCall having a little over three miles to the Chain Bridge or the Aqueduct, or about six miles to the Long Bridge.

If the enemy crossed the Potomac for the purpose of attacking on the Maryland side, Stone was in position to fall back on McCall or Couch after retarding their passage of the river; so that there would have been four brigades, with good communication to either flank, in readiness to oppose them, while troops could have been brought from the Virginia side to their support.

In the city were the few regulars acting as a provost-guard, and ready to be thrown wherever their services might be required.

On the 5th of Aug. the first three regiments of the Excelsior Brigade and the 79th New York were formed into a provisional brigade and posted in the suburbs of Washington; they were soon moved south of the Anacostia to the vicinity of [81] Uniontown. On the 7th McCall received a battery of regular artillery; and on the 9th Kearny and Sherman each received another company of volunteer cavalry, and on the same day King's brigade of three regiments was formed, and posted on Meridian Hill. Three days afterwards it was increased by two regiments. On the 10th a battery was sent to Stone, and a second one to McCall, who received another regiment on the 12th.

The formation of divisions was thus:

Aug. 24, 1861: McDowell's division, consisting of Keyes's and Wadsworth's brigades. King's brigade was added on Oct. 5.

About the same date--i.e., within two or three days after the formation of the Army of the Potomac--the troops under Gen. Banks were organized as a division.

Aug. 28, 1861: Franklin's division, consisting of Kearny's and Franklin's old brigade. A third brigade added Sept. 4.

Aug. 30, 1861: F. J. Porter's division, consisting of two brigades. A third brigade added Sept. 27.

Sept. 12, 1861: Stone's division, consisting of two brigades, Lander's and Peck's. Baker's brigade was added towards the end of the month or early in October.

Sept. 14, 1861: Buell's division, consisting of Couch's and Graham's brigades. A third brigade added early in October.

Sept. 16, 1861: McCall's division; on the 25th of that month he received the last two regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserves, so that his division consisted of thirteen regiments in three brigades, under Meade, J. F. Reynolds, and Ord.

Sept. 28, 1861: W. F. Smith's division, consisting of the Vermont brigade (afterwards Brooks's), J. J. Stevens's and Hancock's brigades.

Oct. 5, 1861: Heintzelman's division, consisting of Richardson's, Sedgwick's, and Jameson's brigades.

Oct. 11, 1861: Hooker's division, consisting of his own (afterwards Naglee's) brigade and Sickles's brigade. In November a third brigade (Starr's New Jersey) was added.

Oct. 12, 1861: Blenker's division, consisting of Stahl's and Steinwehr's brigades. A third brigade added during the winter.

Nov. 25, 1861: Sumner's division, consisting of Howard's, Meagher's, and French's brigades.

Dec. 6, 1861: Casey's division, consisting of three brigades.

1 The defenceless condition of Washington on this very day was described by Mr. Edwin M. Stanton, afterwards Secretary of War in Mr. Lincoln's cabinet, in a private letter, historic and prophetic, to ex-President Buchanan, as follows:

Washington, July 26, 1861.
Dear Sir: . . The dreadful disaster of Sunday can scarcely be mentioned. The imbecility of this administration culminated in that catastrophe; an irretrievable misfortune and national disgrace never to be forgotten are to be added to the ruin of all peaceful pursuits and national bankruptcy as the result of Lincoln's “running the machine” for five months. . It is not unlikely that some change in the War and Navy Departments may take place, but none beyond those two departments until Jeff Davis turns out the whole concern. The capture of Washington seems now to be inevitable; during the whole of Monday and Tuesday it might have been taken without any resistance. The rout, overthrow, and demoralization of the whole army is complete. Even now I doubt whether any serious opposition to the entrance of the Confederate forces could be offered. While Lincoln, Scott, and the cabinet are disputing who is to blame, the city is unguarded and the enemy at hand. Gen. McClellan reached here last evening. But if he had the ability of Caesar, Alexander, or Napoleon, what can he accomplish? Will not Scott's jealousy, cabinet intrigues, and Republican interference thwart him at every step? . . .

Yours truly,

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