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Doc. 58.-General Halleck's report of the operations of the National armies.

Headquarters of the army, Washington, Dec. 2, 1862.
Sir: In compliance with your orders, I have the honor to submit the following report of military operations since the twenty-third of July last, when, in compliance with the President's order, I assumed the command of the army as General-in-Chief. The first thing to which my attention was called on my arrival here was the condition of the army at Harrison's Landing, on the James River. I immediately visited General McClellan's headquarters for consultation. I left Washington on the twenty-fourth and returned on the twenty-seventh. The main object of this consultation was to ascertain if there was a possibility of an advance upon Richmond from Harrison's Landing, and if not, to favor some plan of uniting the armies of Gen. McClellan and Gen. Pope on some other line. Not being familiar with the position and numbers of the troops in Virginia, and on the coast, I took the President's estimate of the largest number of reenforcements that could be sent to the army of the Potomac. On the day of my arrival at Harrison's Landing Gen. McClellan was of opinion that he would require at least fifty thousand additional troops. I informed him that this number could not possibly be sent, that I was not authorized to promise him over twenty thousand, and that I could not well see how even that number could be safely withdrawn from other places. He took the night for considering the matter, and informed me the next morning that he would make the attempt upon Richmond with the additional twenty thousand, but immediately on my return to Washington he telegraphed that he would require thirty-five thousand, a force which it was impossible to send him without leaving Washington and Baltimore almost defenceless. The only alternative now left was to withdraw the army of the Potomac to some position where it could unite with that of Gen. Pope, and cover Washington at the same time that it operated against the enemy. After full consultation with my officers, I determined to attempt this junction on the Rappahannock, by bringing McClellan's forces to Acquia Creek. Accordingly, on the thirtieth July, I telegraphed to him to send away his sick as quickly as possible, preparatory to a movement of his troops. This was preliminary to the with-drawal of his entire army, which was ordered by telegraph on the third of August. In order that the transfer to Acquia Creek might be made as rapidly as possible, I authorized Gen. McClellan to assume control of all the vessels in the James River and Chesapeake Bay, of which there was then a vast fleet. The Quartermaster-General was also requested to send to that point all the transports that could be procured. On the fifth, I received a protest from Gen. McClellan, dated the fourth, against the removal of the army from Harrison's Landing, a copy of which is annexed, marked Exhibit No. 1, with my reply on the sixth, marked Exhibit No. 2. On the first of August I ordered Gen. Burnside to immediately embark his troops at Newport News, transfer them to Acquia Creek, and take position opposite Fredericksburgh. This officer moved with great promptness, and reached Acquia Creek on the night of the third. His troops were immediately landed, and the transports sent back to General McClellan.

About this time I received information that the enemy was preparing a large force to drive back Gen. Pope, and attack either Washington or Baltimore. The information was so direct and trustworthy that I could not doubt its correctness. This gave me serious uneasiness for the safety of the capital and Maryland, and I repeatedly urged upon Gen. McClellan the necessity of promptly moving his army so as to form a junction with that of Gen. Pope. The evacuation of Harrison's Landing, however, was not commenced till the fourteenth, eleven days after it was ordered.

Greatly discouraged at the prospect of timely aid from that quarter, I authorized Gen. Pope to order the main forces of General Cox, in Western Virginia, with all possible despatch by railroad, to join him via Washington. To facilitate the [219] withdrawal of the army of the Potomac from the Peninsula, and to gain time by a demonstration against the enemy, Gen. Pope pushed his forces across the Rappahannock, occupied Culpeper and threatened Gordonsville. Jackson's and Ewell's forces were hurried to the Rapidan, and on the ninth of August encountered Banks's corps at Cedar Mountain. A hard-fought battle ensued, and on the arrival of reenforcements from the corps of Gens. McDowell and Sigel, the enemy fell hack upon the Rapidan and Gordonsville.

On the fifteenth, our cavalry surprised a party of the enemy near Louisa Court-House, and captured important despatches, showing that Lee was moving by forced marches the main body of the rebel army to attack Pope, before a junction could be formed between him and the army of the Potomac. On the sixteenth, I telegraphed to General Pope not to cross the Rapidan, and advised him to take position in rear of the Rappahannock, where he could be more easily reenforced. He commenced this movement on the seventeenth, and by the morning of the eighteenth had most of his forces behind that river, prepared to hold its passes as long as possible. He had been reenforced by King's division and a part of Burnside's corps, under Gen. Reno, from Fredericksburgh. I also directed Gen. Burnside to occupy Richard's and Barnett's Fords, which were between him and Gen. Pope's main army.

The enemy made several attempts to cross at different points on the Rappahannock, but was always repulsed, and our troops succeeded in holding the line of this river for eight days. It was hoped that during this time sufficient forces from the army of the Potomac would reach Acquia Creek to enable us to prevent any further advance of Lee, and eventually, with the combined armies, to drive him back upon Richmond. On the twenty-fourth, he made a flank movement, and crossed a portion of his forces at Waterloo Bridge, about twelve miles above the Rappahannock railroad station. Pope directed an attack upon the forces which had crossed the river, hoping to cut them off, but the enemy escaped with no great loss. The annexed telegram from General Pope, marked Exhibit No. 3, and dated the twenty-fifth, gives his views of the condition of affairs at that date. The enemy, however, had not fallen back, as he supposed, but on being repulsed at Waterloo Bridge, had moved further up the river and entered the valley which lies between the Blue Ridge and Bull Run Mountains. The object of this movement was evidently to get in Pope's rear, and cut off his supplies from Washington.

Anticipating this danger, I had telegraphed to Gen. Pope on the twenty-third: “By no means expose your railroad communication with Alexandria. It is of the utmost importance in sending your supplies and reenforcements.” On the twenty-sixth I telegraphed: “If possible to attack the enemy in flank do so, but the main object now is to ascertain his position.” From this time till the thirtieth I had no communication with General Pope, the telegraph-lines being cut at Kettle Run by a part of Jackson's corps under Ewell, which had marched around Pope's right and attacked his rear.

Finding it doubtful whether we could hold Rappahannock long enough to effect this junction of the two armies, I had directed a part of the Peninsula forces to land at Alexandria, and move out by railroad as rapidly as possible. As soon as I had heard that the enemy had turned Gen. Pope's right flank and forced him to change his front, I ordered the remainder of the army of the Potomac to Alexandria, and directed Gen. Burnside to prepare to evacuate Fredericksburgh and Acquia Creek. I determined, however, to hold this position as long as possible for a base of future operations.

Gen. Pope's dispositions at this juncture were well planned. The corps of McDowell and Sigel, and the Pennsylvania reserves, under Reynolds, were pushed forward to Gainesville; Reno and Kearny were directed upon Greenwich, while Hooker's division was sent against Ewell along the railroad. Unfortunately, however, the movement was too late, as a large detachment of Lee's army was already east of Thoroughfare Gap. Hooker encountered the enemy near Kettle Run, and a sharp engagement ensued. This gallant division drove Ewell a distance of five miles, the enemy leaving their dead, and many of their wounded, on the field. As McDowell, Sigel, and Reynolds had reached their positions, there was now every prospect that Jackson would be destroyed before reeforcements could come to his relief.

On the evening of the twenty-seventh, General Pope ordered Gen. Porter to be at Bristow's Station by daylight on the morning of the twenty-eighth, with Morell's, and also directed him to communicate to Banks the order to move forward to Warrenton Junction. All trains were ordered this side of Cedar Run, and to be protected by a regiment of infantry, and a section of artillery. For some unexplained reasons Porter did not comply with this order, and his corps was not in the battles of the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth.

Heintzelman's corps pressed forward to Manassas on the morning of the twenty-eighth, and forced Jackson to retreat across Bull Run by the Centreville turnpike. McDowell had succeeded in checking Lee at Thoroughfare Gap, but the latter took the road from Hopeville to Newmarket and hastened to the relief of Jackson, who was already in rapid retreat. A portion of McDowell's corps encountered the retreating column on the afternoon of the twenty-eighth, near Warrenton turnpike, and a severe but successful engagement ensued. Jackson was again attacked on the twenty-ninth, near the old battle-ground of July, 1861. Knowing that Longstreet was not distant, he made a most desperate stand. The fight continued nearly all day, and was terminated only by darkness. We had gained considerable ground, but nothing was decided when the battle closed. It was renewed the next morning, and after another day's hard fighting, our [220] forces fell back behind Bull Run, the enemy not attempting any pursuit. Two days later, however, he threw a considerable force between Chantilly and Germantown to turn Pope's right. Hooker dislodged them after a short but severe engagement, in which Brig.-Gens. Kearny and Stevens, two of our very best officers, were killed. Pope's army had been reenforced by the corps of Franklin and Sumner, and no further apprehensions were felt for its safety.

During the operations of the previous week, of which we received very favorable but not trustworthy accounts, every effort was made to push forward supplies and reenforcements to General Pope's army. The troops from the Peninsula were ordered not to wait for transportation, but to march immediately to the field of battle. Some of the corps moved with becoming activity, but the delays of others were neither creditable nor excusable. Our losses in these battles were very heavy, both in life and materials, but as no official reports have been received, except a brief sketch from Gen. Pope, marked Exhibit No. 4, I have no means of ascertaining their extent. Gen. Pope was transferred to another Department before the reports of his subordinates could be received; probably they will soon be handed in. Most of the troops actually engaged in these battles fought with great bravery, but some of them could not be brought into action at all. Many thousands straggled away from their commands, and it is said that not a few voluntarily surrendered to the enemy, so as to be paroled as prisoners of war.

In order to reorganize the different corps, get the stragglers back into their ranks, and to supply deficiencies of ammunition, clothing, etc., caused by recent losses, General Pope requested and received directions to bring his army within the defences of Washington, which were then under the command of General McClellan. This movement was executed on the night of the third, without loss. General Pope being now second in command of the united forces, applied to be relieved, and was transferred to another department. Although this short and active campaign was, from causes already referred to, less successful than we had reason to expect, it had accomplished the great and important object of covering the capital till troops could be collected for its defence. Had the army of the Potomac arrived a few days earlier, the rebel army could have been easily defeated and perhaps destroyed.

Seeing that an attack upon Washington would now be futile, Lee pushed his main army across the Potomac for a raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Gen. McClellan was directed to pursue him with all troops which were not required for the defence of Washington. Several corps were immediately thrown out in observation at Darnestown and Leesboro, and most of his army was in motion by the fifth of September. A portion entered Frederick on the twelfth. As the campaign was to be carried on within the department commanded by Major-Gen. Wool, I directed Gen. McClellan to assume control of all troops within his reach, without regard to departmental lines. The garrisons of Winchester and Martinsburgh had been withdrawn to Harper's Ferry, and the commanding officer of that post had been advised by my chief of staff to mainly confine his defence, in case he was attacked by superior forces, to the position of Maryland Heights, which could have been held a long time against over-whelming numbers. To withdraw him entirely from that position, with the great body of Lee's forces between him and our army, would not only expose the garrison to capture, but all the artillery and stores collected at that place must either be destroyed or left to the enemy. The only feasible plan was for him to hold his position until Gen. McClellan could relieve him, or open a communication so that he could evacuate it in safety. These views were communicated both to General McClellan and to Colonel Miles.

The left of Gen. McClellan's army pursued a part of the enemy's forces to the South-Mountains, where, on the fourteenth, he made a stand. A severe battle ensued, the enemy being defeated and driven from his position with heavy loss. Lee's army then fell back behind Antietam Creek, a few miles above its mouth, and took a position admirably suited for defence. Our army attacked him on the sixteenth, and a hotly-contested battle was fought on that and the ensuing day, which resulted in the defeat of the Rebel forces. On the night of the seventeenth, our troops slept on the field which they had so bravely won. On the eighteenth, neither party renewed the attack, and on the night of the eighteenth and nineteenth Gen. Lee withdrew his army to the south side of the Potomac. Our loss in the several battles on South-Mountain and at Antietam was one thousand seven hundred and forty-two killed, eight thousand and sixty-six wounded, and nine hundred and thirteen missing, making a total of ten thousand seven hundred and twenty-one, Gen. McClellan estimates the enemy's loss at nearly thirty thousand; but their own accounts give their loss at about fourteen thousand in killed and wounded.

On the approach of the enemy to Harper's Ferry, the officer in command on Maryland Heights destroyed his artillery and abandoned his post, and on the fifteenth, Col. Miles surrendered Harper's Ferry, with only a slight resistance, and within hearing of the guns of Gen. McClellan's army. As this whole matter has been investigated and reported upon by a military commission, it is unnecessary for me to discuss the disgraceful surrender of the post and army under Col. Miles's command. General McClellan's preliminary report of his operations in Maryland, including the battles of South-Mountain and Antietam, is submitted herewith, marked Exhibit No. 4. No reports of his subordinate officers have been submitted.

From the seventeenth of September till the twenty-sixth of October, McClellan's main army remained on the north bank of the Potomac, in the vicinity of Sharpsburgh and Harper's Ferry. The long inactivity of so large an army in the [221] face of a defeated foe, and during the most favorable season for rapid movements and a vigorous campaign, was a matter of great disappointment and regret. Your letter of the twenty-seventh, and my reply on the twenty-eighth of October, in regard to the alleged causes of this unfortunate delay, I submit herewith, marked Exhibit No. 5. In reply to the telegraphic order of the sixth of October, quoted in my letter of the twenty-eighth, above referred to, Gen. McClellan disapproved of the plan of crossing the Potomac south of the Blue Ridge, and said that he would cross at Harper's Ferry and advance upon Winchester. He, however, did not begin to cross till the twenty-sixth of October, and then at Berlin.

This passage occupied several days, and was completed about the third of November. What caused him to change his views, or what his plan of campaign was, I am ignorant; for about this time he ceased to communicate with me in regard to his operations, sending his reports directly to the President. On the fifth instant, I received the written order of the President relieving Gen. McClellan, and placing Gen. Burnside in command of the army of the Potomac. This order was transmitted by a special messenger, who delivered it to Gen. McClellan at Rectortown on the seventh.

When I left the department of the Mississippi in July last, the main body of the army under Major-Gen. Buell was between Huntsville and Stevenson, moving toward Chattanooga, for which place they had left Corinth about the tenth of June. Major-Gen. Curtis's forces were at Helena, Arkansas, and those under Brig.-Gen. Schofield in South-western Missouri. The central army, under Major-Gen. Grant, occupying the line of West-Tennessee and Northern Mississippi, extended from Memphis to Iuka, and protected the railroads from Columbus south, which were then our only channels of supply. These several armies spread along a line of some six hundred miles from the western borders of Arkansas to Cumberland Gap, and occupying a strip of country more than one hundred and fifty miles in width, from which the enemy's forces had recently been expelled, were rapidly decreasing in strength from the large numbers of soldiers sent home on account of real or pretended disability.

On the other hand, the enemy's armies were greatly increased by an arbitrary and rigidly enforced conscription. With their superiority in numbers and discipline they boldly determined to reoccupy Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and, if possible, to invade the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, while our attention was distracted by the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania, and an extended Indian insurrection on the Western frontiers. This plan had very many chances of success; but the timely order of the President of August fourth, calling for additional forces, and the patriotic response of the people of the North-West, thwarted the enemy's well-formed calculations.

Gen. Bragg suddenly transferred a large part of his army from Tupelo, Mississippi, through the States of Alabama and Georgia, reached Chattanooga in advance of Gen. Buell, turned his left, and, rapidly crossing the State of Tennessee, entered Kentucky by Munfordsville and Lebanon.

Gen. Buell fell back upon Nashville, without giving the enemy battle — then followed, or rather moved parallel with Bragg, who, after capturing our garrison at Munfordsville, turned off from the main road to Louisville, along which Gen. Buell passed — the latter reaching Louisville without any engagement. Another column of the enemy had moved from East-Tennessee, after blockading Cumberland Gap, upon Lexington, and threatened Cincinnati. A small force of our raw troops, which had been pushed forward to Richmond, Ky., under Major-General Nelson, were met by the enemy and completely routed. In the mean time, every effort had been made to collect new troops at Cincinnati and Louisville, and to fortify these places against a coup de main.

To give confidence to the new levies, a portion of Gen. Grant's army was withdrawn from Mississippi and sent to Kentucky and Cincinnati. No attack was attempted by the enemy.

Major-Gen. Buell left Louisville on the first of October, with an army of about one hundred thousand men in pursuit of General Bragg. The latter engaged a part of Gen. Buell's army at Perryville, about ten o'clock on the eighth of October. A general battle ensued, and was continued till dark; it was mainly fought by Major. Geon. McCook's corps ; the enemy retreated during the night; the losses were heavy on both sides, but no official reports of the numbers engaged or the losses on either side have been received. After this battle, the main army of the Rebels retreated to East-Tennessee; Gen. Buell pursued it as far as Mount Vernon or London, then fell back to the line from Louisville to Nashville. Here Major-General Rosecrans superseded him in the command by the orders of the President. As the Secretary of War has ordered a military commission to investigate the operations of Gen. Buell in this campaign, it would be obviously improper for me to express any opinion, unless specially directed to do so.

The command of Brig.-Gen. Morgan at Cumberland Gap abandoned that place and retreated to the Ohio River. The alleged cause of this retreat was the want of supplies. The commanding officer, however, had just before reported that he had several weeks' provisions, and under no circumstances would he surrender that important post. An investigation of this matter has been ordered.

The withdrawal of a considerable part of Gen. Grant's army to reinforce Gen. Buell and to occupy Zanesville and Cincinnati, induced the enemy to renew operations in Northern Mississippi and Western Tennessee.

A force of some five thousand or six thousand men was sent to attack Bolivar and Jackson, Tennessee, and by destroying the railroad to cut off all connection between Memphis and Corinth. The head of the enemy's column was met about four miles south of Bolivar on the thirtieth of [222] August, and a brisk skirmish ensued. On the thirty-first, a portion of the enemy's forces was engaged and repulsed near Meadow Station. On the first of September the fight was renewed at Britton's Lane, on the Denmark road, and continued till night, when the enemy retreated south, across the Hatchie, leaving one hundred and seventy-nine dead and wounded on the field. Our loss was five killed, seventy-eight wounded, and ninety-two prisoners and missing.

In the early part of October, General Price advanced with a large force and took possession of Iuka, a small town on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, twenty-one miles south-east of Corinth. The garrison, too weak to attempt resistance, fell back on Corinth. As the occupation of this place by the enemy cut off all connection between the forces of Gen. Grant and Gen. Buell, the former determined to attack and drive him from that position. Grant's forces moved in two columns, one on the north of the town under Major-General Ord, and the other on the south under Major-General Rosecrans. The enemy, finding himself likely to be surrounded, left the town and attacked the column of Gen. Rosecrans about four P. M. on the nineteenth of October. The engagement lasted until dark, Hamilton's division sustaining the brunt of the battle. Our men fought with great bravery, and completely routed the enemy, who fled in confusion, leaving their dead and most of their wounded on the field. We buried two hundred and fifty-five dead, took seven hundred or eight hundred wounded, and captured three hundred and sixty-one prisoners, over one thousand six hundred stand of arms, and a considerable quantity of stores. Our loss was one hundred and eight killed, six hundred and eleven wounded, and seventeen missing. The retreating foe was pursued only a few miles.

On the thirtieth of October, General Grant ascertained that Generals Price and Van Dorn were concentrating their forces at Ripley, with the probable intention of attacking Corinth. The enemy crossed the Hatchie River, and took possession of the railroad north of Corinth, thus cutting off all direct communication with Jackson and Bolivar. He then advanced toward Corinth, and some skirmishing took place on the second of November.

Major-General Rosecrans commanded our forces at Gorinth, which consisted of the divisions of Brigadier-Generals Hamilton, McKean, Davies, and Stanley. The first three were placed in line of battle near the old rebel intrenchments, and the last held in reserve in the town. The skirmishing was renewed on the morning of the third, and by ten or eleven o'clock the engagement became pretty general and continued until dark. It was fiercely renewed on the morning of the fourth, and fought with varied success till near noon, when the rebels were defeated and driven from the field, leaving their dead and many of their wounded. The enemy's forces were commanded by Generals Van Dorn, Price, Lovell, Villepigue, and Rust, and their number estimated at about thirty-eight thousand, or nearly double those of General Rosecrans. Their loss in killed was one thousand four hundred and twenty-three, which would give, by the usual proportion, five thousand six hundred and ninety-two wounded. We took two thousand two hundred and sixty-five prisoners, among whom were one hundred and twenty-seven officers. We also captured fourteen stand of colors, two pieces of artillery, three thousand three hundred stand of arms, and ammunition, accoutrements, etc. Our loss was three hundred and fifteen killed, one thousand eight hundred and twelve wounded, and two hundred and thirty-two prisoners and missing. This great disparity of numbers in killed and wounded resulted in part from the fact that a portion of our men fought behind the intrenched batteries. Major-General Grant had ordered a brigade of four regiments, under Brig.-General McPherson, from Jackson to Corinth. Finding the railroad interrupted at Bethel, the latter turned to the left and reached Corinth on the fourth by the Farmington road, thus marching nearly around the enemy, and forming a timely junction with General Rosecrans.

Other forces from Jackson and Bolivar, under Brig.-Gen. Hurlbut, were directed to march on Corinth by way of Middleton and Pocahontas, to cut off the enemy's retreat in that direction. They encountered the enemy on the Hatchie River, on the morning of the fifth, and as Brig.-Gen. Hurlbut was making dispositions for an attack, Major-Gen. Ord arrived upon the field and assumed command, but being wounded about eleven A. M. he again relinquished it to General Hurlbut. The battle continued till about half-past 3 P. M., when the enemy retreated south, crossing the Hatchie at Corum's Mills, about six miles further up the river. Our loss was fifty killed, four hundred and ninety-three wounded, and seventeen missing. Gen. Hurlbut did not attempt any pursuit, and Gen. Rosecrans did not leave Corinth till the morning of the fifth. The enemy therefore effected his escape, but was followed for a distance of about sixty miles without being overtaken.

Gen. Grant afterward led his forces south as far as Holly Springs, and drove the enemy across the Tallahatchie. This operation was attended with several brisk skirmishes, in all of which our troops were victorious. These operations have restored peace in Western Tennessee. The official reports of the operations of General Grant's army are submitted herewith, marked Exhibit No. 6.

The unfortunate withdrawal to Missouri, by General Curtis, of a large part of the army in Arkansas, prevented the execution of the military operations which had been ordered in the latter State. In Missouri, the forces, under Brig.-Gen. Schofield, not only broke up and destroyed numerous guerrilla bands, but defeated the rebel army in several engagements near the south-west corner of the State, and drove it across the Boston [223] Mountains, in Arkansas. I cannot give the details of these engagements, as no official reports have been received.

The Indian tribes in the North-West, and more particularly in Minnesota, incited, it is said, by rebel emissaries, committed numerous murders and other outrages on the frontiers during the latter part of the summer. These savages were vigorously attacked by a volunteer force under Brig.-Gen. Sibley, and defeated in several well-fought battles on the upper waters of the Minnesota River. These vigorous proceedings struck terror among the Indians and put an end to hostilities in that quarter for the present season. It is quite possible that these hostilities will be renewed in the coming spring, and preparations will be made accordingly.

In the department of the Gulf, the withdrawal of our flotilla from Vicksburgh enabled the enemy to concentrate a considerable force on Baton Rouge, which was then held by Brig.-Gen. Williams. The attack was made on the fifth of August with greatly superior forces, under the rebel Gen. Breckinridge. Gen. Williams gained a most signal victory, but fell in the fight. Our loss was ninety killed, and two hundred and fifty wounded. We buried three hundred of the enemy's dead, left upon the field. On the sixteenth of August, the garrison of Baton Rouge was withdrawn to New-Orleans. On the twenty-fourth of October, Gen. Butler sent a force, under Brig.-Gen. Weitzel, to operate on the west bank of the Mississippi, in the La Fourche district. He engaged a considerable body of the enemy on the twenty-fifth, about nine miles from Donaldsonville, and defeated them, with the loss of their commander, a large number killed and wounded, and two hundred and sixty-eight prisoners. Our loss was eighteen killed and sixty-eight wounded. This victory opened the whole of that part of the country. General Butler's reports of the military operations in his department are submitted herewith, marked Exhibit No. 7. (See Donaldsonville.)

In the department of the South the only military operations which have been undertaken were the reconnoissances of the Pocotaligo and Coosahatchie Rivers. These expeditions under Brig.-Gen. Brannan and Col. Barton, encountered a considerable force of the enemy on the twenty-second of October, and engagements ensued, in which we lost thirty-two killed and one hundred and eighty wounded. The official reports of these engagements are submitted herewith, marked Exhibit No. 8 (See Pocotaligo, S. C.)

In the department of North-Carolina our force has also been too small to attempt any important offensive operations. On time sixth of September a party of the enemy surprised the garrison of Washington, but were soon driven out. Our loss was eight killed and thirty-six wounded, and that of the enemy thirty-three killed and about one hundred wounded. Several successful reconnoissances have been made into the interior. The official reports of the affair at Washington are marked Exhibit No. 9. (See Washington, N. C.)

It is seen from this brief summary of military operations during the last three or four months, that while our soldiers have generally fought with bravery, and gained many important battles, these victories have not produced the usual results. In many instances the defeated foe was not followed om the battle-field, and even where a pursuit was attempted, it almost invariably failed to effect the capture or destruction of any part of the retreating army. This is a matter which requires serious and careful consideration. A victorious army is supposed to be in a condition to pursue its defeated foe with advantage, and, during such pursuit, to do him serious, if not fatal injury. This result has usually been attained in other countries. Is there any reason why it should not be expected in this? It is easily understood that in a country like that between Yorktown and Richmond, or the thickly-wooded swamps of Mississippi and Louisiana, that a retreating force, by felling trees across the roads, and destroying bridges over deep and marshy streams, can effectually prevent any rapid pursuit. The one in a few minutes blocks up or destroys roads, which the other cannot clear or repair for hours, or even days. The pursuer has very little hope of overtaking his flying foe. But this reasoning is not applicable to Maryland, and the greater part of Virginia, Kentucky, and Middle Tennessee. It must be admitted that in these theatres of war the rebel armies have exhibited much more mobility and activity than our own. Not only do they out-march us, both in advance and retreat, but on two memorable occasions their cavalry have made with impunity the entire circuit of the army of the Potomac. If it be true that the success of an army depends upon its “arms and its legs,” ours has shown itself deficient in the latter of these essential requisites.

This defect has been attributed to our enormous baggage and supply trains, and to a want of training in marches. There is no doubt that the baggage trains of our armies have been excessively large. Every possible effort has been made within the last few weeks to reduce them. But this is no easy task. Once accustomed to a certain amount of transportation, an army is unwilling to do without the luxuries which it supplies in the field. By the recent increase of the army ration, which was previously larger than in any other country, a considerable amount of transportation is employed in moving provisions and supplies which are not necessary for the subsistence of the soldiers.

An examination of the returns of the Quartermaster-General, a few days since, developed the fact that the army of the Potomac, including the troops around Washington, most of which are without field-trains, had fifty-four thousand animals, and that nine thousand of these were employed in transporting ambulances and hospital stores. In addition to all this, the roads, streets, and wharves are incumbered with private vehicles used for the transportation of sutlers' stores. No matter how large the main body of an army may be, it can never move rapidly with such a mass [224] of impediments, and yet speculative projects are almost daily urged on the War Department to increase the immobility of our armies in the field.

Again, our troops, especially those in the East, lave been very little accustomed to march, at least to that kind of marching usually required by active operations in the field. Absenteeism is one of the most serious evils in all our armies. Hundreds of officers and thousands of men are almost continually away from their commands. Many of these are really stragglers and deserters. In regard to officers, the evil is being abated by summary dismissals, and if the law could be stringently enforced against the men, it would soon put an end to desertions. But straggling on the march and in battle can be prevented only by severe and summary punishment inflicted on the spot. In this and many other important particulars our military laws require revision and amendment. They were mostly enacted for a small army and for times of peace, and are unsuited to the government of the army we now have, and the war in which we are now engaged.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

Exhibit no. 1--a copy in cipher.

Berkeley, Va., August 4--12 M.
Major-General Halleck, Commander-in-Chief:
Your telegram of last evening is received. I must confess that it has caused me the greatest pain I ever experienced, for I am convinced that the order to withdraw this army to Acquia Creek will prove disastrous in the extreme to our cause. I fear it will be a fatal blow. Several days are necessary to complete the preparations for so important a movement as this, and while they are in progress, I beg that careful consideration may be given to my statement. This army is now in excellent discipline and condition. We hold a debouche on both banks of the James River, so that we are free to act in any direction, and with the assistance of the gunboats, I consider our communications as secure.

We are twenty-five miles from Richmond, and are not likely to meet the enemy in force sufficient to fight a battle until we have reached fifteen to eighteen miles, which brings us practically within ten miles of Richmond. Our largest line of land transportation would be from this point twenty-five miles, but with the aid of the gunboats we can supply the army by water, during its advance, certainly to within twelve miles of Richmond. At Acquia Creek we would be seventy-five miles from Richmond, with land transportation all the way. From here to Fortress Monroe is a march of about seventy miles, for I regard it as impracticable to withdraw this army and its material except by land. The result of the movement would thus be to march one hundred and forty-five miles to reach a point now only twenty-five miles distant, and to deprive ourselves entirely of the powerful aids of the gunboats and water transportation. Add to this the certain demoralization of this army, which would ensue, the terrible depressing effect upon the people of the North, and the strong probability that it would influence foreign powers to recognize our adversaries ; and these appear to me sufficient reasons to make it my imperative duty to urge in the strongest terms afforded by our language, that this order may be rescinded, and that far from recalling this army, it be promptly reinforced, to enable it to resume the offensive.

It may be said that there are no reenforcements available. I point to General Burnside's forces, to that of General Pope, not necessary to maintain a strict defence in front of Washington and Harper's Ferry; to those portions of the army of the West not required for a strict defence there. Here, directly in front of this army, is the heart of the rebellion. It is here that all our resources should be collected to strike the blow which will determine the fate of this nation. All points of secondary importance elsewhere should be abandoned, and every available man brought here. A decided victory here, and the military strength of the rebellion is crushed. It matters not what partial reverses we may meet with elsewhere — here is the true defence of Washington. It is here on the bank of the James River that the fate of the Union should be decided.

Clear in my conviction of right, strong in the consciousness that I have ever been and still am actuated solely by love of my country, knowing that no ambitious or selfish motives have influenced me from the commencement of this war, I do now, what I never did in my life before, I entreat that this order may be rescinded. If my counsel does not prevail, I will, with a sad heart, obey your order to the utmost of my power, devoting to the movement, one of the utmost delicacy and difficulty, whatever skill I may possess, whatever the result may be, and may God grant that I am mistaken in my forebodings. I shall at least have the internal satisfaction that I have written and spoken frankly, and have sought to do the best in my power to arrest disaster from my country.

Geo. B. Mcclellan, Major-General.
official copy. Headquarters, army, Washington, D. C., November 23, 1862.

Exhibit no. 2.

Washington, August 6, 1862.
Major-General George B. McClellan, Commanding, etc., Berkeley, Va.:
General: Your telegram of yesterday was received this morning, and I immediately telegraphed a brief reply, promising to write you more fully by mail. You, General, certainly could not have been more pained at receiving my order than I was at the necessity of issuing it. I was advised by high officers, in whose judgment I had great confidence, to make the order immediately on my arrival here, but I determined not to do so until I could learn your wishes from a personal interview; and even after that interview I tried every means in my power to avoid with-drawing your army, and delayed my decision as long as I dared to delay it. I assure you, General, it was not a hasty and inconsiderate act, [225] but one that caused me more anxious thought than any other of my life. But after full and mature consideration of all the pros and cons, I was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that the order must be issued. There was to my mind no other alternative.

Allow me to allude to a few of the facts of the case. You and your officers, at our interview, estimated the enemy's forces in and around Richmond at two hundred thousand men. Since then you and others report that they have received and are receiving large reenforcements from the South. Gen. Pope's army, now covering Washington, is only forty thousand. Your effective force is only about ninety thousand. You are thirty miles from Richmond, and General Pope eighty or ninety. With the enemy directly between you, ready to fall with his superior numbers upon one or the other, as he may elect, neither can reenforce the other in case of such an attack.

If Gen. Pope's army be diminished to reenforce you, Washington, Maryland, and Pennsylvania would be left uncovered and exposed. If your forces be reduced to strengthen Pope, you would be too weak to even hold the position you occupy, should the enemy turn round and attack you in full force. In other words, the old army of the Potomac is split into two parts, with the entire force of the enemy directly between them. They cannot be united by land without exposing both to destruction, and yet they must be united. To send Pope's forces by water to the Peninsula is, under present circumstances, a military impossibility. The only alternative is to send the forces on the Peninsula to some point by water, say Fredericksburgh, where the two armies can be united. Let me now allude to some of the objections which you have urged.

You say that to withdraw from the present position will cause the certain demoralization of the army, which is now in, excellent discipline and condition. I cannot understand why a simple change of position to a new and by no means distant base will demoralize an army in excellent discipline, unless the officers themselves assist in the demoralization, which I am satisfied they will not. Your change of front from your extreme right at Hanover Court-House to your present position was over thirty miles, but I have not heard that it demoralized your troops, notwithstanding the severe losses they sustained in effecting it.

A new base on the Rappahannock, at Fredericksburgh, brings you within about sixty miles of Richmond, and secures a reenforcement of forty or fifty thousand fresh and disciplined troops. The change, with such advantages, will, I think, if properly represented to your army, encourage rather than demoralize your troops. Moreover, you yourself suggested that a junction might be effected at Yorktown, but that a flank march across the Peninsula would be more hazardous than to retire to Fort Monroe. You will remember that Yorktown is two or three miles further from Richmond than Fredericksburgh is. Besides, the latter is between Richmond and Washington, and covers Washington from any attack by the enemy.

The political effect of the withdrawal may at first look unfavorable, but I think the public are beginning to understand its necessity, and that they will have much more confidence in a united army than in its separate fragments. But you will reply, Why not reenforce me here, so that I can strike Richmond from my present position? To do this, you said at our interview that you required fifty thousand additional troops. I told you that it was impossible to give you so many. You finally thought you would have “some chance” of success with twenty thousand, but you afterward telegraphed to me that you would require thirty-five thousand, as the enemy was being largely reenforced.

If your estimate of the enemy's strength was correct, your requisition was perfectly reasonable, but it was utterly impossible to fill it until new troops could be enlisted and organized, which would require several weeks. To keep your army in its present position until it could be so reenforced would almost destroy it in that climate. The months of August and September are almost fatal to whites who live on that part of James River; and even after you got the reenforcements asked for, you admitted that you must reduce Fort Darling and the river batteries before you could advance on Richmond. It is by no means certain that the reduction of these fortifications would not require considerable time, perhaps as much as those at Yorktown. This delay might not only be fatal to the health of your army, but in the mean time Gen. Pope's forces would be exposed to the heavy blows of the enemy, without the slightest hope of assistance from you.

In regard to the demoralizing effect of a withdrawal from the Peninsula to the Rappahannock, I must remark that a large number of your highest officers — indeed a majority of those whose opinions have been reported to me — are decidedly in favor of the movement. Even several of those who originally advocated the line of the Peninsula now advise its abandonment. I have not inquired, and do not desire to know, by whose advice or for what reasons the army of the Potomac was separated into two parts, with the enemy before them. I must take things as I find them. I find our forces divided, and I wish to unite them. Only one feasible plan has been presented for doing this. If you or any one else had presented a better one, I certainly should have adopted it; but all of your plans require reenforcements which it is impossible to give you. It is very easy to ask for reenforcements, but it is not so easy to give them when you have no disposable troops at your command. I have written very plainly, as I understand the case, and I hope you will give me credit for having carefully considered the matter, although I may have arrived at different conclusions from your own. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief, official copy: J. C. Kelton, Assist. Adjt-Gen.

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