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Chapter IX

I have already stated in a general way what occurred between myself and some of the radical leaders shortly after I reached Washington. They then saw clearly that it would not be possible to make a party tool of me, and soon concluded that it was their policy to ruin me if possible.

It had been clearly stated by Congress and the general government that the sole object of the war was the “preservation of the Union and the prevention of the secession of the Southern States.” We fought to keep them in the Union, and the practically unanimous sentiment of the army, as well as of the mass of the people, was at that time strongly in favor of confining the war to that object. Although the Free-Soil element was strong in the North, the Abolitionists proper were weak, and a declaration of their true purposes would have seriously interfered with the progress of the war. A clear indication of the correctness of this statement lies in the fact that the executive never disowned my proclamation to the West Virginians nor the policy I pursued in reference to Kentucky.

The real object of the radical leaders was not the restoration of the Union, but the permanent ascendency of their party, and to this they were ready to sacrifice the Union, if necessary.1 [150]

They committed a grave error in supposing me to be politically ambitious and in thinking that I looked forward to military success as a means of reaching the presidential chair. At the same time they knew that if I achieved marked success my influence would necessarily be very great throughout the country — an influence which I should certainly have used for the good of the whole country, and not for that of any party at the nation's expense.

They therefore determined to ruin me in any event and by any means: first by endeavoring to force me into premature movements, knowing that a failure would probably end my military career; afterwards by withholding the means necessary to achieve success.

That they were not honest is proved by the fact that, having failed to force me to advance at a time when an advance would have been madness, they withheld the means of success when I was in contact with the enemy, and finally relieved me from command when the game was in my hands. They determined that I should not succeed, and carried out their determinations only too well and at a fearful sacrifice of blood, time, and treasure. In the East alone it is quite safe to say that we unnecessarily lost more than a quarter of a million in killed, wounded, and prisoners in consequence of my being withdrawn from the Peninsula and not properly supported. Taking both East and West, and counting the losses also by disease, I do not doubt that more than half a million of men were sacrificed unnecessarily for the sake of insuring the success of a political party.

I do not base my assertions as to the motives of the radical leaders upon mere surmises, but upon facts that have frequently come to my knowledge during the war and since. For instance, Maj. Charles Davies, once professor of mathematics at West Point, told me, and at a different time told Gen. Jos. E. Johnston, the following story:

He said that during the very early part of the Peninsular campaign he was one of a commission sent from New York to urge more vigorous action in supporting me. They called upon the President, and found Mr. Stanton with him. In reply to their statement of the purpose of their visit Mr. Stanton stated that the great end and aim of the war was to abolish slavery. [151] To end the war before the nation was ready for that would be a failure. The war must be prolonged, and conducted so as to achieve that. That the people of the North were not yet ready to accept that view, and that it would not answer to permit me to succeed until the people had been worked up to the proper pitch on that question. That the war would not be finished until that result was reached, and that, therefore, it was not their policy to strengthen Gen. McClellan so as to insure his success.

I have heard, from the best authority, many instances in which the same views were expressed by other prominent radical leaders. Under date of April 7, 1862, Gen. Franklin, in a letter informing me of the circumstances attending the withholding of McDowell's corps, of which his division formed part, writes: “McDowell told me that it was intended as a blow at you. That Stanton had said that you intended to work by strategy and not by fighting; that all of the opponents of the policy of the administration centred around you — in other words, that you had political aspirations. There was no friend of yours present to contradict these statements, of course.”

As a further proof that the administration did not intend the Peninsular campaign to be successful may be cited the fact that on the 3d of April, 1862, ten days after left Washington to assume command in the field, there was issued General Order No. 33, closing all the recruiting depots for the volunteers and stopping all recruiting. It is hardly credible that the members of the administration were ignorant of the fact that an army in the field must meet with some losses under the most favorable circumstances, and that to stop all supplies of men at such a juncture is the most unpardonable of follies.

From the light that has since been thrown on Stanton's character I am satisfied that from an early date he was in this treasonable conspiracy, and that his course in ingratiating himself with me, and pretending to be my friend before he was in office, was only a part of his long system of treachery.

Judge Black's papers in the Galaxy showed the character of the man; and it is somewhat singular that the judge began the papers for the purpose of vindicating Stanton, but that as he proceeded he became enlightened as to what the man really was.

I had never seen Mr. Stanton, and probably had not even [152] heard of him, before reaching Washington in 1861. Not many weeks after arriving I was introduced to him as a safe adviser on legal points. From that moment he did his best to ingratiate himself with me, and professed the warmest friendship and devotion. I had no reason to suspect his sincerity, and therefore believed him to be what he professed. The most disagreeable thing about him was the extreme virulence with which he abused the President, the administration, and the Republican party. He carried this to such an extent that I was often shocked by it.

He never spoke of the President in any other way than as the “original gorilla,” and often said that Du Chaillu was a fool to wander all the way to Africa in search of what he could so easily have found at Springfield, Illinois. Nothing could be more bitter than his words and manner always were when speaking of the administration and the Republican party. He never gave them credit for honesty or patriotism, and very seldom for any ability.

At some time during the autumn of 1861 Secretary Cameron made quite an abolition speech to some newly arrived regiment. Next day Stanton urged me to arrest him for inciting to insubordination. He often advocated the propriety of my seizing the government and taking affairs into my own hands.

As he always expressed himself in favor of putting down the rebellion at any cost, I always regarded these extreme views as the ebullitions of an intense and patriotic nature, and sometimes wasted more or less time in endeavoring to bring him to more moderate views, never dreaming that all the while this man was in close communication with the very men whom he so violently abused. His purpose was to endeavor to climb upon my shoulders and then throw me down.

Several weeks before Mr. Cameron was finally removed from the War Department it came to my knowledge that a committee of New York bankers were urging upon Secretary Chase the removal of Mr. Cameron. I interfered, and by my action with the President no doubt saved him. The fact is that, so far as purely military matters were concerned, Mr. Cameron had not at all interfered with me, but gave me full support. He, so far as I knew, occupied himself solely with contracts and political affairs. The only difficulty I ever had with him — and I do not think that this point had arisen before the time in question, at all events [153] to a very considerable degree — was that I could not always dispose of arms and supplies as I thought the good of the service demanded. For instance, it often happened, especially toward the close of his administration, that when a shipment of unusually good arms arrived from Europe, and I wished them for the Army of the Potomac, I found that they had been promised to some political friend who might be engaged in raising a prospective regiment in some remote State, and I could not get them. So with regard to other articles of equipment, and to batteries and regiments which I desired for the Army of the Potomac. As I had no idea who might be selected in Mr. Cameron's place, and as he supported me in purely military matters, I objected to his removal and saved him. He was made aware of this at the time.

Finally, one day when I returned to my house from my day's work and was dressing for dinner, a lady of my family told me that Col. Key, one of my aides, had just been there to inform me that Mr. Cameron had resigned and that Mr. Stanton was appointed in his place. This was the first intimation that I had of the matter. Before I had finished my toilet Mr. Stanton's card came up, and as soon as possible I went down to see him. He told me that he had been appointed Secretary of War, and that his name had been sent to the Senate for confirmation, and that he had called to confer with me as to his acceptance. He said that acceptance would involve very great personal sacrifices on his part, and that the only possible inducement would be that he might have it in his power to aid me in the work of putting down the rebellion; that he was willing to devote all his time, intellect, and energy to my assistance, and that together we could soon bring the war to an end. If I wished him to accept he would do so, but only on my account; that he had come to know my wishes and determine accordingly. I told him that I hoped he would accept the position.

Soon after Mr. Stanton became Secretary of War it became clear that, without any reason known to me, our relations had completely changed. Instead of using his new position to assist me he threw every obstacle in my way, and did all in his power to create difficulty and distrust between the President and myself. I soon found it impossible to gain access to him. Before he was in office he constantly ran after me and professed the most [154] ardent friendship; as soon as he became Secretary of War his whole manner changed, and I could no longer find the opportunity to transact even the ordinary current business of the office with him. It is now very clear to me that, far from being, as he had always represented himself to me, in direct and violent opposition to the radicals, he was really in secret alliance with them, and that he and they were alike unwilling that I should be successful. No other theory can possibly account for his and their course, and on that theory everything becomes clear and easily explained.

Had I been successful in my first campaign the rebellion would perhaps have been terminated without the immediate abolition of slavery. To gain their ends with the President they played upon his apprehensions for the safety of Washington-growing out of his complete ignorance of war — as well as upon his personal aspirations. I believe that the leaders of the radical branch of the Republican party preferred political control in one section of a divided country to being in the minority in a restored Union.

Not only did these people desire the abolition of slavery, but its abolition in such a manner and under such circumstances that the slaves would at once be endowed with the electoral franchise, while the intelligent white man of the South should be deprived of it, and permanent control thus be secured through the votes of the ignorant slaves, composing so large a portion of the population of the seceded States.

Influenced by these motives, they succeeded but too well in sowing the seeds of distrust in Mr. Lincoln's mind, so that, even before I actually commenced the Peninsular campaign, I had lost that cordial support of the executive which was necessary to attain success. It may be said that under these circumstances it was my duty to resign my command. But I had become warmly attached to the soldiers, who already had learned to love me well; all my pride was wrapped up in the army that I had created, and I knew of no commander at all likely to be assigned to it in my place who would be competent to conduct its operations.

Nor did I at that time fully realize the length to which these men were prepared to go in carrying out their schemes. For instance, I did not suspect, until the orders reached me, that [155] Fort Monroe and the 1st corps would be withdrawn from my control; and when those orders arrived they found me too far committed to permit me to withdraw with honor. With the troops under fire it did not become me to offer my resignation.

The difficulties of my position in Washington commenced when I was first confined to my bed with typhoid fever in December and January (1861 and 1862) for some three weeks, and culminated soon after Mr. Stanton became Secretary of War. Up to this time there had been no serious difficulty; there were slight murmurs of impatience at the delay in moving, but all sensible and well-informed men saw the impossibility of entering upon a campaign at that season, and no party was as yet openly formed against me.

My malady was supposed to be more serious than it really was; for, although very weak and ill, my strong constitution enabled me to retain a clear intellect during the most trying part of the illness, so that I daily transacted business and gave the necessary orders, never for a moment abandoning the direction of affairs. As is often the case with such diseases, I sometimes passed days and nights without sleeping, and it more than once happened that the President called while I was asleep after such intervals of wakefulness, and, being denied admittance, his anxiety induced him to think that my disease was very acute and would terminate fatally. The radical leaders skilfully availed themselves of the state of affairs to drive in an entering wedge. They represented to the President that as I kept my own counsels and was not in the habit of consulting or advising with others, but acted entirely on my own judgment, no one but myself knew the exact condition of the army, its state of preparation, or the designs I had in view; that, should my malady terminate suddenly and fatally, great confusion would ensue, and that it was necessary to provide against such an emergency by causing a secret examination to be made immediately. My first inkling of this came through Mr. Stanton, not yet Secretary of War, who said to me: “They are counting on your death, and are already dividing among themselves your military goods and chattels.”

The fact was that, although I was in the habit of acting solely on my own judgment, and never told more of my intentions than [156] was absolutely necessary, I always consulted freely with the chiefs of the staff departments, each of whom knew the exact condition of affairs in his own department and could give to any properly authorized person all necessary explanations. So that a secret examination was not only unnecessary, but could not produce as good results as the honest, direct way of coming to me and directing me to instruct my staff to explain the state of affairs to the President or Secretary of War. Gens. McDowell, Franklin, and, I think, Meigs were entrusted by the President with this business.

McDowell, who was probably at the bottom of the affair, undertook it con amore, hoping to succeed me in command. Franklin was unwilling to touch it, and simply acted under orders. This information reached me when the crisis of my malady was over, and learning — also through Mr. Stanton--that a grand conclave was to assemble without my knowledge, I mustered strength enough on Sunday morning (Jan. 12, 1862) to be driven to the White House, where my unexpected appearance caused very much the effect of a shell in a powder-magazine. It was very clear from the manner of those I met there that there was something of which they were ashamed.

I made no allusion to what I knew, nor was anything said to me on the subject. But I took advantage of the occasion to explain to the President in a general and casual way what my intentions were; and before I left he told me that there was to be a meeting at the White House next day, and invited me to attend, but made no reference to the object of the meeting. At the designated hour I went to the President's office and there met a party consisting of the President, Secretaries Seward, Chase, and Blair, Gens. McDowell, Franklin, and Meigs. I do not think that the Secretary of War (Mr. Cameron) was present. I sat by Secretary Blair and Gen. Meigs, and entered into conversation with them upon topics of general interest having no possible bearing upon any subject that could be brought before the meeting. Meanwhile there was a good deal of whispering among the others, in which I do not think Franklin took any special part. Finally McDowell said he wished to explain to me the part he had in the examination, which had commenced, into the state of the army.

Exactly what he said has escaped my memory, except that he [157] disclaimed any purpose hostile to me, and based what had been done on the ground of the supposed critical nature of my illness. I stopped the explanation by saying that as I was now again restored to health the case had changed, and that, as the examination must now cease, further explanations were unnecessary. Franklin then said a few words clearing himself of any improper motives, which was needless, as I could not suspect him of anything wrong. I then quietly resumed my conversation with Blair and Meigs, awaiting further developments.

The whispering then recommenced, especially between the President and Secretary Chase; when at length the latter (Chase) spoke aloud, for the benefit of all assembled, in a very excited tone and manner, saying that he understood the purpose of the meeting to be that Gen. McClellan should then and there explain his military plans in detail, that they might be submitted to the approval or disapproval of the gentlemen present. The uncalled — for violence of his manner surprised me, but I determined to avail myself of it by keeping perfectly cool myself, and contented myself with remarking-what was entirely true — that the purpose he expressed was entirely new to me; that I did not recognize the Secretary of the Treasury as in any manner my official superior, and that I denied his right to question me upon the military affairs committed to my charge; that in the President and Secretary of War alone did I recognize the right to interrogate me. I then quietly resumed my conversation with Blair and Meigs, taking no further notice of Mr. Chase.

I must again state that this meeting had been arranged when I was supposed to be too ill to attend, and that the original and real purpose was not as Mr. Chase stated it, but “to dispose of the military goods and chattels” of the sick man so inopportunely restored to life. Mr. Chase's disappointment at this sudden frustration of his schemes accounts, I suppose, for his anger. In another connection I have already stated that some weeks before the date of this meeting I had given Mr. Chase a sketch of the proposed Urbana movement, and that he was much pleased with it. Here I need only say in addition that I did this entirely of my own volition, for the purpose indicated, and that Mr. Swinton is entirely mistaken in stating that it was by direction of the President. Mr. Chase knew at the time that the President had no knowledge of my intention of talking to him about [158] my plans. At this previous interview Mr. Chase seemed very grateful for the confidence I reposed in him and for my thoughtfulness in thus seeking to relieve his mind in his troubles. I presume the after-thought, and the object of the intrigues, cut short by my recovery, was to take advantage of this plan by having it carried into effect by McDowell. In no other way can I account for the uncalled — for irritation displayed. This impression is strengthened by other circumstances which will appear as I proceed with my story.

To return to the meeting. After I had thus disposed of the Secretary of the Treasury he resumed his whispering with the President, who, after the lapse of some minutes, said: “Well, Gen. McClellan, I think you had better tell us what your plans are” --or words to that effect.

To this I replied, in substance, that if the President had confidence in me it was not right or necessary to entrust my designs to the judgment of others, but that if his confidence was so slight as to require my opinions to be fortified by those of other persons it would be wiser to replace me by some one fully possessing his confidence; that no general commanding an army would willingly submit his plans to the judgment of such an assembly, in which some were incompetent to form a valuable opinion, and others incapable of keeping a secret, so that anything made known to them would soon spread over Washington and become known to the enemy. I also reminded the President that he and the Secretary of the Treasury knew in general terms what my designs were. Finally, I declined giving any further information to the meeting, unless the President gave me the order in writing and assumed the responsibility of the results.

This was probably an unexpected denouement. The President was not willing to assume the responsibility; and, after a little more whispering between him and Mr. Chase, Mr. Seward arose, buttoned his coat, and laughingly said, “Well, Mr. President, I think the meeting had better break up. I don't see that we are likely to make much out of Gen. McClellan.” With that the meeting adjourned. I do not think that Mr. Seward took any special part in the affair, and believe that he was on my side. Mr. Chase still continued his whispered conversation with the President. I waited until that had ceased, then walked up to the President, begged him not to allow himself to be acted upon by [159] improper influences, but still to trust me, and said that if he would leave military affairs to me I would be responsible that I would bring matters to a successful issue and free him from all his troubles.

The radicals never again lost their influence with the President, and henceforth directed all their efforts to prevent my achieving success. After this time Secretary Chase worked with them and became my enemy.

One of their next steps was to secure the removal of Mr. Cameron, in order to replace him by Mr. Stanton, who, while pretending to be my friend, was secretly allied with them, and no doubt made use of his pretended friendship for me to secure his appointment; for I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the President's assertion that he had appointed him because he thought it would be agreeable to me.2 [160]

My relations with Mr. Lincoln were generally very pleasant, and I seldom had trouble with him when we could meet face to face. The difficulty always arose behind my back. I believe that he liked me personally, and certainly he was always much influenced by me when we were together. During the early part of my command in Washington he often consulted with me before taking important steps or appointing general officers.

He appointed Hunter a major-general without consulting me, and a day or two afterwards explained that he did so “because the people of Illinois seemed to want somebody to be a sort of father to them, and he thought Hunter would answer that purpose.” [161]

When he appointed, as general officers, some of the released prisoners from the first Bull Run, he afterwards explained to me that he did it as a recompense for their sufferings, unaware, no doubt, that in other armies they would have been brought before some tribunal to explain their capture.

Soon after arriving in Washington the President one day sent for me to ask my opinion of Hooker, who was urged for appointment as a brigadier-general of volunteers, and stated that he wished me to regard the conversation as strictly confidential. I told him that Hooker had been a good soldier in Mexico, but that common report stated that he had fallen in California; but that I had no personal knowledge of this, and I advised him to consult with officers who were in California with Hooker. He, however, gave him the appointment a few days later. Remembering that this conversation was sought by the President and that he desired me to regard it as confidential, it was with no little surprise that I learned, after Antietam, that Hooker had been informed of the conversation, except of its confidential nature and that it was sought by the President.

As before stated, when Stanton was made Secretary of War I knew nothing of the matter until the nomination had already gone to the Senate. Next day the President came to my house to apologize for not consulting me on the subject. He said that he knew Stanton to be a friend of mine and assumed that I would be glad to have him Secretary of War, and that he feared that if he told me beforehand “some of those fellows” would say that I had dragooned him into it.

The evening before the order appeared finally relieving me from the command of the Army of the Potomac, the elder Mr. Frank Blair drove to the Soldiers' Home to dissuade the President from relieving me, rumors being current that such a thing was in contemplation. After a long, conversation Mr. Blair left with the distinct understanding that I was not to be relieved. Next morning the order appeared in the papers, and when Mr. Blair met the President in the course of the day the latter said: “Well, Mr. Blair, I was obliged to play shut-pan with you last night.” Mr. Blair was my authority for this.

Officially my association with the President was very close until the severe attack of illness in December, 1861. I was often sent for to attend formal and informal cabinet meetings, [162] and at all hours whenever the President desired to consult with me on any subject; and he often came to my house, frequently late at night, to learn the last news before retiring. His fame as a narrator of anecdotes was fully deserved, and he always had something apropos on the spur of the moment.

Late one night, when he was at my house, I received a telegram from an officer commanding a regiment on the upper Potomac. The despatch related some very desperate fighting that had been done during the day, describing in magniloquent terms the severe nature of the contest, fierce bayonet-charges, etc., and terminated with a very small list of killed and wounded, quite out of proportion with his description of the struggle.

The President quietly listened to my reading of the telegram, and then said that it reminded him of a notorious liar, who attained such a reputation as an exaggerator that he finally instructed his servant to stop him, when his tongue was running too rapidly, by pulling his coat or touching his feet. One day the master was relating wonders he had seen in Europe, and described a building which was about a mile long and a half-mile high. Just then the servant's heel came down on the narrator's toes, and he stopped abruptly. One of the listeners asked how broad this remarkable building might be; the narrator modestly replied, “About a foot!”

I think he enjoyed these things quite as much as his listeners.

Long before the war, when vice-president of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, I knew Mr. Lincoln, for he was one of the counsel of the company. More than once I have been with him in out-of-the-way county-seats where some important case was being tried, and, in the lack of sleeping accommodations, have spent the night in front of a stove listening to the unceasing flow of anecdotes from his lips. He was never at a loss, and I could never quite make up my mind how many of them he had really heard before, and how many he invented on the spur of the moment. His stories were seldom refined, but were always to the point.

The President ignored all questions of weather, state of roads, and preparation, and gave orders impossible of execution. About the middle of Feb., 1862, the President having reluctantly consented to abandon his plan of operation for that [163] suggested by me, preparations were begun for the collection of the necessary water transportation. On the 27th of that month Mr. John Tucker, of Philadelphia, Assistant Secretary of War, was placed in charge of the procuring of the requisite steamers, etc., and performed his task with wonderful skill and energy. The President's War Order of March 8, 1862, “that any movement as aforesaid, en route for a new base of operations, which may be ordered by the general-in-chief, and which may be intended to move upon the Chesapeake Bay, shall begin to move upon the bay as early as the 18th March instant, and the general-in-chief shall be responsible that it moves as early as that day,” was extraordinary, in view of the fact that the furnishing of transports was in no manner under my control, and that the beginning of the movement must necessarily depend upon their arrival.

When the operation by the lower Chesapeake was finally decided upon and approved by the corps commanders, it was distinctly understood that the movement would be made by the complete four corps, consisting of twelve divisions, plus the reserve artillery, engineer brigade, regular infantry and cavalry, and several cavalry regiments not assigned to the corps, and that I was authorized to form a division of 10,000 men from the troops in and near Fort Monroe and attach it to the active army. Moreover, we were assured of the active co-operation of the navy in reducing the batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester.

As my story progresses it will appear that I was deprived of five out of the thirteen infantry divisions, with their batteries, and of nine regiments of cavalry, and that I never received the co-operation of the navy in reducing the batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester.

On the 15th of March the aggregate present and absent under my command was about 233,578, taking as a basis the return of March 1; the number present for duty, including all extra-duty men, guards, etc., etc., was 203,213. Of these I purposed to leave behind, in Baltimore, Washington, and the Shenandoah, an aggregate of 66,552, brought up by new arrivals to about 77,401 at the close of March, or, deducting Gen. Dix's command, 65,621, equal to about 57,091 present for duty, with the convalescent hospitals at hand to dram upon.

Now, the estimate made of the necessary garrison of Washington [164] by the chiefs of engineers and artillery on the 24th of Oct., 1861 was a little less than 34,000 men, including reserves, so that a force of a little over 23,000 men would have been left for the Shenandoah Valley--much more than enough under the circumstances, if properly handled.

I thus expected to take with me to the Peninsula a force of 146,122 present for duty, to be increased by a division of 10,000 formed from the troops at Fort Monroe--a total of about 156,000 men.

But the 1st corps, Blenker's division, the expected Fort Monroe division, the cavalry, etc. (afterwards taken away), amounted to about 63,000 for duty, and reduced my paper force to 93,000, which, in consequence of leaving behind many men unfit for the field, was actually reduced to 85,000 not much more than one-half of what I expected. Making the proper deduction for extra-duty men, etc., there remained only about 70,000 effectives.

Moreover, on the second day after I left Washington an order was issued breaking up all the recruiting rendezvous for volunteers, and thus abruptly stopping all recruiting at the very time it was most necessary.

I will anticipate somewhat the sequence of events, and state the manner in which these reductions of force were accomplished.

A few days before sailing for Fort Monroe I met the President, by his appointment, on a steamer at Alexandria. He informed me that he was most strongly pressed to remove Blenker's German division from my command and assign it to Fremont, who had just been placed in command of the Mountain Department. He suggested several reasons against the proposed removal of the division, to all of which I assented. He then said that he had promised to talk to me about it, that he had fulfilled his promise, and that he would not deprive me of the division.

On the 3Ist of March, a few hours before I sailed I was much surprised by the receipt of the following letter:

executive Mansion Washington March 31, 1862.
Maj.-Gen. McClellan:
my dear Sir: This morning I felt constrained to order Blenker's division to Fremont; and I write this to assure you that I did so with great pain, understanding that you would wish [165] it otherwise. If you could know the full pressure of the case I am confident that you would justify it, even beyond a mere acknowledgment that the commander-in-chief may order what he pleases.

Yours very truly,

To this it might be replied that the commander-in-chief has no right to order what he pleases; he can only order what he is convinced is right. And the President had already assured me that he knew this thing to be wrong, and had informed me that the pressure was only a political one to swell Fremont's command.

I replied that I regretted the order and could ill-afford to lose 10,000 troops who had been counted upon in arranging the plan of campaign. In a conversation the same day I repeated this, and added my regret that any other than military considerations and necessities had been allowed to govern his decision.

He then assured me that he would allow no other troops to be withdrawn from my command.

Before I left for the field Fort Monroe and its dependencies had been placed under my command, and I was authorized to form a division of 10,000 men from the troops stationed there and add it to the Army of the Potomac, placing it under Mansfield. I arrived at Fort Monroe on the afternoon of the 2d of April, and on the 3d received a telegraphic order withdrawing Fort Monroe from my command and forbidding me to remove any of Gen. Ord's troops without his sanction. No reason has ever been given for this step, and I was thus not only deprived of 10,000 more troops, but also of the control of my immediate base of operations and supplies.

On the afternoon of the 5th, the right and left wings of the army being under fire from Yorktown and the works on the line of the Warwick, I received the following telegram:

adjutant-general's office, April 4, 1862.
Gen. McClellan:
By direction of the President, General McDowell's army corps has been detached from the forces under your immediate command, and the general is ordered to report to the Secretary of War. Letter by mail.

L. Thomas, Adjutant-General.


In addition to the forces already enumerated, at least nine regiments of cavalry were withheld from me, and the order of April 3, discontinuing recruiting for the volunteers, rendered it impossible for me to make good the inevitable losses from disease and battle.

The effect of these changes will appear as I resume the narrative of events.

1 A few days before the arrival of McClellan in Washington Congress had stated the purposes of the war in a resolution:

That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the country by the disunionists of the Southern States, now in revolt against the constitutional government, and in arms around the capital; that in this national emergency Congress, banishing all feeling of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to its country; that this war is not waged, on our part, in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired; and as soon as these objects are accomplished the war ought to cease.

2 Note by the Editor.--The question will naturally be asked, How came it about that Mr Edwin M. Stanton, then a pronounced and violent opponent of the President and the administration, knew of this secret proceeding, which was concealed from all but a few confidential friends of the President and three soldiers under orders of secrecy? Also, how came it that a few days after this Mr. Stanton was brought into Mr. Lincoln's cabinet? These questions were unanswerable until the publication of the private papers of Secretary Chase, which shed ample light on them. Why Mr. Stanton revealed Mr. Chase's secret to McClellan, and enabled the latter to defeat the plot, can be conjectured. Willing to be made War Secretary by Mr. Chase's intrigues, he may not have been so willing to have McDowell, or any other general closely allied to Mr. Chase, placed in command of the army.

On the very day on which Gen. McClellan made use of Mr. Stanton's information, and left his bed to visit the President, Mr. Chase devoted himself to concentrating the plans for bringing Mr. Stanton into the cabinet. He regarded it as a matter of the highest importance, and his account, in his private diary for that day, of his method of using Secretary Cameron and Seward to accomplish his end forms a very extraordinary intermingling of piety and politics, as follows (see Warden's “Account, etc., of S. P. Chase,” p. 400):

January 12, 1862.--At church this morning. Wished much to join in communion, but felt myself too subject to temptation to sin. After church went to see Cameron by appointment; but being obliged to meet the President, etc., at one, could only excuse myself. At President's found Gens. McDowell, Franklin, and Meigs, and Seward and Blair. Meigs decided against dividing forces and in favor of battle in front. President said McClellan's health was much improved, and thought it best to adjourn until to-morrow, and have all then present attend with McC. at three. Home, and talk and reading. Dinner. Cameron came in. . . We talked of his going to Russia, and Stanton as successor, and he proposed I should again see the President.

I first proposed seeing Seward, to which he assented. . . He and I drove to Willard's, where I left him, and went myself to Seward's, I told him at once what was in my mind — that I thought the President and Cameron were both willing that C. should go to Russia. He seemed to receive the matter as new, except so far as suggested by me last night. Wanted to know who would succeed Cameron. I said Holt and Stanton had been named; that I feared Holt might embarrass us on the slavery question, and might not prove quite equal to the emergency; that Stanton was a good lawyer and full of energy, but I could not, of course, judge him as an executive officer as well as he (S) could, for he knew him when he was in Buchanan's cabinet. Seward replied that he saw much .of him then; that he was of great force, full of expedients, and thoroughly loyal.

Finally he agreed to the whole thing, and promised to go with me to talk with the President about it to-morrow. Just at this point Cameron came in with a letter from the President proposing his nomination to Russia in the morning! He was quite offended, supposing the letter intended as a dismissal, and therefore discourteous. We both assured him it could not be so. . We went off together, I taking him to his house.

Before parting I told him what had passed between me and Seward concerning Stanton, with which he was gratified. I advised him to go to the President in the morning, express his thanks for the consideration with which his wishes, made known through me as well as by himself orally, had been treated, and tell him frankly how desirable it was to him that his successor should be a Pennsylvanian and should be Stanton.

I said I thought that his wish, supported, as it would be, by Seward and myself, would certainly be gratified, and told him that the President had already mentioned Stanton in a way which indicated that no objection on his part would be made. I said also that if he wished I would see Seward, and would go to the President, after he had left him, and urge the point. He asked, why not come in when me (he) should be there, and I assented to this. We parted, and I came home.

A day which may have — and seemingly must have-great bearing on affairs. Oh! that my heart and life were so pure and right before God that I might not hurt our great cause.

I fear Mr. Seward may think Cameron's coming into his house prearranged, and that I was not dealing frankly. I feel satisfied, however, that I have acted right and with just deference to all concerned, and have in no respect deviated from the truth.

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