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red it, I would clear West Virginia of the rebels. I received no reply whatever to this despatch, nor did I afterwards receive any other despatch or order from Washington that could be construed into an order or permission to operate in West Virginia. The movements that were subsequently made were initiated and conducted entirelvements in West Virginia were, from first to last, undertaken upon my own authority and of my own volition, and without any advice, orders, or instructions from Washington or elsewhere. The proclamations I addressed to the inhabitants of West Virginia and to my troops were also entirely of my own volition. I had received no ind by the president. Many of these were mere boys, among whom some were severely wounded. These last I sent home to their parents, without awaiting orders from Washington. It was a singular fact that the wounded preferred the attendance of our surgeons to that of their own, saying that the former were more kind and attentive to
Chapter 5: private letters. [July 27 to Sept. 30, 1861.] July 27, 1861, Washington, D. C. I have been assigned to the command of a division composed of the departments of northeastern Virginia (that under McDowell) and that of Washington (now under Mansfield). Neither of them like it much, especially Mansfield; but I think they must ere long become accustomed to it, as there is no help for it. . . . I find myself in a new and strange position here: President, cabinet, Gen. Scott, and all deferring to me. By some strange operation of magic I seem to have become the power of the land. I see already the main causes of our recent failure; I am sure that I can remedy these, and am confident that I can lead these armies of men to victory once more. I start to-morrow very early on a tour through the lines on the other side of the river. It will occupy me all day long, and a rather fatiguing ride it will be, but I will be able to make up my mind as to the state of things. Refu
Chapter 6: The defence of Washington growth of an army foresight of the magnitude of the war Memorandum to the President letter to Secretary Cameron. Reference to any good man will show that Washington is situated on the point of confluence of the main Potomac with the Anacostia, or eastern branch thereof. The ground occupied by the city is low, though by no means flat, and is commanded from all directions by heights within the easy range of even modern field-artillery. Moral and political considerations alike rendered it necessary to retain the seat of government in Washington, although its situation was the most unfavorable that could be conceived under the circumstances of the case. So far as military operations were concerned, it would have been well could the capital have been removed to New York; but this was impossible. The defence of the capital, containing, as it did, the executive and legislative, the archives of the government, the public buildings,
ments belonging to the government to be boxed up, and sent them to the adjutant-general of the army in Washington, I think at the same time with my report. My recollection is that they were sent by the hands of my aide-de-camp, Capt. A. McClellan. I do not think it possible that any document can have been overlooked, because in examining my papers subsequently my attention would in all probability have been attracted to it, and, as a matter of course, I would at once have forwarded it to Washington. I shall be under especial obligations to you, general, if you will cause me to be informed what documents are alluded to in the report referred to, also by whom the report was made to you. To such a general statement as that made to Gen. Marcy at least as it has reached me — I can only return a general reply, as I have already done. Desiring the favor of an early reply, directed to the care of Messrs. J. S. Morgan & Co., 22 Old Broad Street, London, I am, general, very truly you
owards me, I am, most sincerely your friend, Geo. B. Mcclellan. While at Fairfax Court-House an order arrived assigning Gen. Wadsworth to the command of Washington. The secretary had spoken to me on the subject some days before, whereupon I objected to the selection for the reason that Gen. Wadsworth was not a soldier by training. I said that one of the very best soldiers in the army was necessary for the command of Washington, which was next in importance to the command of the Army of the Potomac--an officer fully posted in all the details of the profession; and that, much as I should dislike sparing him, I would give up Franklin for the place. s battles, but prefer to strike at the heart. Two bases of operations seem to present themselves for the advance of the Army of the Potomac: 1st. That of Washington — its present position — involving a direct attack upon the entrenched positions of the enemy at Centreville, Manassas, etc., or else a movement to turn one or
Manassas Junction, and part of this even was to go to Gen. Hooker's old position. Gen. Banks's corps, once designed for Manassas Junction, was diverted and tied up on the line of Winchester and Strasburg, and could not leave it without again exposing the upper Potomac and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This presented, or would present when McDowell and Sumner should be gone, a great temptation to the enemy to turn back from the Rappahannock and sack Washington. My implicit order that Washington should, by the judgment of all the commanders of army corps, be left entirely secure, had been neglected. It was precisely this that drove me to detain McDowell. I do not forget that I was satisfied with your arrangement to leave Banks at Manassas Junction; but when that arrangement was broken up, and nothing was substituted for it, of course I was constrained to substitute something for it myself. And allow me to ask, Do you really think I should permit the line from Richmond via Man
Chapter 22: White House the Chickahominy river bridges battle of Hanover Court House Porter's victory neglect at Washington McDowell's retention useless. White House was a very fine plantation belonging to Mrs. Gen. Lee. It was the residence of Mrs. Custis when she was married to Washington. The ceremony took place in St. Peter's Church, a lonely old building beautifully placed on a commanding hill. I observed within it a tablet commemorating a death which took place in 1690. Finding one's self alone within that historic building, it was a natural impulse to invoke the aid of God to enable me to serve the country as unselfishly and truly as did the great man who had often worshipped there. The residence at White House was not the original building of the time of Washington — that had been destroyed by fire; but the existing one was constructed on the same foundations. I neither occupied it myself nor permitted any others to do so, but placed a guard to
oth parties are active, but the nature of the country is such as to make our progress difficult in the extreme. I hope to knock secesh out of Old Tavern and its vicinity within a couple of days; shall try it, at all events. . . . I see the Abolitionists have got a new dodge in my behalf — the White House business! In the first place, I never saw Col. Lee in my life, and, of course, never made any arrangement with him. The house was guarded simply from motives of respect for the memory of Washington, which I thought would be appreciated by every honest person in the country. The adjacent property has been freely used for all necessary purposes. The house has never been needed for a hospital, and would not accommodate over thirty or forty persons anyhow. The spring alluded to is one of a great many. There are plenty there, and this one is prohibited only because access to it brings people too near the house. I was not even sure that it was guarded, and do not even now know whether
I am not so fond of it but that I should like to rest; but if that cannot be, I will do my best and try to do my duty ever. . . . I told you the result of the interview with Halleck; thus far practically nothing. Not a word have I heard from Washington since his return there. I shall not write or telegraph another word until I hear from them, unless something of great importance occurs. I shall stand on what is left of my dignity now! 1 A. M. . . . As I was just about comfortably aslhad quite an interesting visit on the other side to-day. The place we burned up yesterday was a very handsome one. It was a rather hard case to be obliged to do it, but it could not be avoided. . . . I had (as usual) not a single word from Washington to-day from any one, nor anything from Burnside. If the latter is really under orders for the Rappahannock there is something very strange in his failure to communicate with me, not even giving me the slightest hint of it; therefore I am dispo
eceipt of the above telegram from the general-in-chief, to withdraw Gen. Hooker, that there might be the least possible delay in conforming to Gen. Halleck's orders. I therefore sent to Gen. Hooker: . . . Under advices I have received from Washington, I think it necessary for you to abandon the position to-night, getting everything away before daylight. Five batteries, with their horses and equipments complete, were embarked on the 7th and 8th. Simultaneously with Gen. Hooker's operatiause you have not been properly informed by those around you, who ought to know — the inherent difficulties of such an undertaking. It is not possible for any one to place this army where you wish it, ready to move, in less than a month. If Washington is in danger now this army can scarcely arrive in time to save it; it is in much better position to do so from here than from Acquia. Our material can only be saved by using the whole army to cover it if me are pressed. If sensibly weakened
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