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were placed at your disposal, and it was supposed that (8) eight or (10) ten thousand of your men could be transported daily. “In addition to steamers, there is a large fleet of sailing vessels which could be used as transports. “The bulk of your material on shore it was thought could be sent to Fort Monroe, covered by that part of the army which .# not get water transportation. Such were the views of the government here; perhaps we were misinformed as to the facts. If so, the i. could be explained. Nothing in my telegram was intentionally harsh or unjust, but the delay was so unexpected that an explanation was required. There has been, and is, the most urgent necessity for despatch, and not a single moment must be lost in getting additional
troops in front of Washington.
“Major General. “Major General G. B. McCLELLAN.”
I telegraphed the following reply:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY of The PotoMAC,
“Your despatch of noon to-day received. It is positively the fact that no more men could have been embarked hence than have gone, and that no unnecessary delay has occurred. Before your orders were received, Colonel Ingalls directed all available vessels to come from Monroe. Officers have been sent to take personal direction. Have heard nothing here of Burnside's fleet. “There are some vessels at Monroe, such as Atlantic and Baltic, which draw too much to come here. Hospital accommodations exhausted this side New York. Propose filling Atlantic and Baltic with serious cases, for New York, and to encamp slight cases for the present at Monroe. In this way can probably get off the (3,400) thirty-four hundred sick, still on hand, by day after tomorrow night. “I am sure that you have been misinformed as to the availability of vessels on hand. We cannot use heavily loaded supply vessels for troops or animals; and such constitute the mass of those here, which have been represented to you as capable of transporting this army. “I fear you will find very great delay in embarking troops and material at, Yorktown and Monroe, both from want of vessels and of facilities of embarcation; at least two additional wharves should at once be built at each place. I ordered two at the latter some (2) two weeks ago, but you countermanded the order. “I learn that wharf accommodations at Aquia are altogether inadequate for landing troops and supplies to any large extent. Not an hour should be lost in remedying this. “Great delay will ensue there from shallow water. You will find a vast deficiency in horse transports. We had nearly two hundred when we came here; Ilearn of only (20) twenty provided now; they carry about (50) fifty horses each. More hospital accommodations should be provided. We are much impeded here because our wharves are used night and day to land current supplies. At Monroe a similar difficulty will occur. “With all the facilities at Alexandria and Washington, (6) six weeks about were occupied in embarking this army and its material. “Burnside's troops are not a fair criterion for rate of embarcation. All his means were in hand, his outfit specially prepared for the purpose, and his men habituated to the movement. “There shall be no unnecessary delay, but I cannot manufacture vessels. I state these difficulties from experience, and because it appears to me that we
have been lately working at cross purposes, because 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 Aquia.
“Our material can only be saved by using the whole army to cover it, if we are pressed. If sensibly weakened by detachments, the result might be the loss of much material and many men. I will be at the telegraph office tomorrow morning.
“G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, “Washington, D. C.”
To the reasons given in the foregoing despatch, to show why General Burnside's movement from Fort Monroe was not a fair criterion for our operations, the following may be added: He was not encumbered by either sick or wounded men. He had no cavalry, artillery, wagons, or teams. His force consisted of infantry alone, with a few ambulances and officers’ horses. His baggage was already on the transports, where it had remained since his arrival from North Carolina, and his men had only to resume their places on board. The cavalry and artillery mentioned in my despatches of the 7th, 10th and 11th, were sent to supply his total deficiency in those arms. I may also repeat that the vessels used by General Burnside had not returned from Aquia creek when the army left Harrison's bar. It will be seen by the concluding paragraph of the foregoing despatch that in order to have a more direct, speedy, and full explanation of the condition of af. fairs in the army than I could by sending a single despatch by steamer to the nearest telegraph office at Jamestown island, some seventy miles distant, and waiting ten hours for a reply, I proposed to go in person to the office. This I did. On my arrival at Jamestown island there was an interruption in the electric current, which rendered it necessary for me to continue on to Fort Monroe, and across the Chesapeake bay to Cherry Stone inlet, on the “eastern shore,” where I arrived late in the evening, and immediately sent the annexed despatches:
“ChERRY STONE, August 13, 1862–11.30 p.m.
“Please come to office; wish to talk to you. What news from Pope?
“Major General. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, Washington.”
“ChERRY Sto.NE INLET, August 14, 1862–12.30 a. m.
“Started to Jamestown island to talk with you; found cable broken and came here. Please read my long telegram. (See above despatch of August 12, 11 p.m.) All quiet at camp. Enemy burned wharves at City Point yesterday. No rebel pickets within eight (8) miles of Coggin's point, yesterday.
“Richmond prisoners state that large force with guns left Richmond northward on Sunday.
“G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, Washington.”
To which the following reply was received:
“WAshingtoN, August 14, 1862–1.40 a.m.
“I have read your despatch. There is no change of plans. You will send up your troops as rapidly as possible. There is no difficulty in landing them. According to your own accounts, there is now no difficulty in withdrawing your forces. Do so with all possible rapidity. - “H. W. HALLECK, “Major General. “Major General G. B. McCLELLAN.”
Before I had time to decipher and reply to this despatch, the telegraph operator in Washington informed me that General Halleck had gone out of the office immediately after writing this despatch, without leaving any intimation of the fact for me, or waiting for any further information as to the object of my journey across the bay. As there was no possibility of other communication with him at that time, I sent the following despatch, and returned to Harrison's Ianding:
“CHERRY STONE INLET, August 14, 1862–1.40 a. m.
“Your orders will be obeyed. I return at once. I had hoped to have had a longer and fuller conversation with you, after travelling so far for the purpose. - “G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, Washington, D. C.”
On the 14th and 15th, and before we had been able to embark all our sick men, two army corps were put in motion towards Fort Monroe. This was reported in the annexed despatch:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
“Movement has commenced by land and water. All sick will be away tomorrow night. Everything being done to carry out your orders. I don’t like Jackson's movements; he will suddenly appear when least expected. Will telegraph fully and understandingly in the morning. “G. B. McCLELLAN, - “Major General. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, Washington, D. C.”.
The phrase “movement has commenced,” it need not be remarked, referred obviously to the movement of the main army, after completing the necessary preliminary movements of the sick, &c., &c.
The perversion of the term, to which the general-in-chief saw fit to give currency in a letter to the Secretary of War, should have been here rendered impossible by the despatches which precede this of the 14th, which show that the movement really begun immediately after the receipt of the order of August 4th.
The progress made in the movement on the 15th was reported in the following despatches:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY of The PotoMAC,
“Colonel Ingalls this moment reports that after embarking the remaining brigade of McCall's division, with the sick, who are constantly accumulating, the transports now disposable will be all consumed.
“Two of my army corps marched last night and this morning en route for Yorktown—one via Jones's bridge, and the other via Barrett's Ferry, where we have a pontoon bridge. The other corps will be pushed forward as fast as the roads are clear; and I hope before to-morrow morning to have the entire army in motion.
“A report has just been received from my pickets that the enemy in force is advancing on us from the Chickahominy, but I do not credit it; shall know soon. Should any more transports arrive here before my departure, and the enemy do not show such a force in our front as to require all the troops I have remaining to insure the safety of the land movement with its immense train, I shall send every man by water that transports will carry.
“G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, “Commanding U. S. A.”
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY of THE POTOMAC,
“The advanced corps and trains are fairly started. I learn nothing more in relation to reported advance of rebels via Jones's bridge. Shall push the movement as rapidly as possible. “G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, “Washington, D. C.”
“HEADQUARTERs ARMY OF THE PoToMAC,
“Coggin's point is abandoned. The whole of McCall's division, with its artillery, is now en route for Burnside. We have not yet transportation sufficient for our sick. I hope we will get it to-morrow.
“Porter is across the Chickahominy, near its mouth, with his wagons and reserve artillery. Heintzelman at Jones's bridge with a portion of his corps. They will all be up by morning.
“Averill's cavalry on the other side. All quiet thus far. I cannot get the last of the wagons as far as Charles City Court House before some time to-morrow afternoon.
“I am hurrying matters with the utmost rapidity possible. Wagons will move all night.
“G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, “Washington, D. C.”
After the commencement of the movement, it was continued with the utmost rapidity, until all the troops and material were en route both by land and water, on the morning of the 16th.
Late in the afternoon of that day, when the last man had disappeared from the deserted camps, I followed with my personal staff in the track of the grand army of the Potomac.; bidding farewell to the scenes still covered with the marks of its presence, and to be forever memorable in history as the vicinity of its most brilliant exploits.
Previous to the departure of the troops, I had directed Captain Duane, of the engineer corps, to proceed to Barrett's ferry, near the mouth of the Chickahominy, and throw across the river at that point a pontoon bridge. This was executed promptly and satisfactorily under the cover of gunboats; and an ex
cellent bridge of about two thousand feet in length was ready for the first arrival of troops. The greater part of the army, with its artillery, wagon trains, &c., crossed it rapidly, and in perfect order and safety, so that on the night of the 17th everything was across the Chickahominy, except the rear guard, which crossed early on the morning of the 18th, when the pontoon bridge was immediately removed. General Porter's corps, which was the first to march from Harrison’s landing, had been pushed forward rapidly, and on the 16th reached Williamsburg, where I had directed him to halt until the entire army was across the Chickahominy, On his arrival at Williamsburg, however, he received an intercepted letter, which led to the belief that General Pope would have to contend against a very heavy force then in his front. General Porter, therefore, very properly took the responsibility of continuing his march directly on to Newport News, which place he reached on the morning of the 18th of August, having marched his corps sixty miles in the short period of three days and one night, halting one day at the crossing of the Chickahominy. The embarcation of this corps commenced as soon as transports were ready, and on the 20th it had all sailed for Aquia creek. I made the following report from Barrett's ferry:
“HEADQUARTERs ARMY of THE PotoMAC, “Barrett's Ferry, Chickahominy, August 17, 1862–11 a. m.
“Everything is removed from our camp at Harrison's bar. No property nor men left behind.
“The (5th) fifth corps is at Williamsburg with all its wagons and the reserve artillery. The (3d) third corps is on the march from Jones's bridge to Williamsburg, via Diascund bridge, and has probably passed the latter before this hour. Averill's cavalry watches everything in that direction.
“The mass of the wagons have passed the pontoon bridge here, and are parked on the other side. Peck's wagons are now crossing; his division will soon be over. Headquarters wagons follow Peck's. I hope to have everything over to-night, and the bridge removed by daylight. May be delayed be: yond that time. Came here to see Burnside, otherwise should have remained with the rear guard. Thus far all is quiet, and not a shot that I know of since we began the march.
“I shall not feel entirely secure until I have the whole army beyond the Chickahominy. I will then begin to forward troops by water as fast as transportation permits.
“ G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General, Commanding. “Major General H. W. HALLEck, “Commanding United States Army, Washington, D. C.”
On the 18th and 19th our march was continued to Williamsburg and Yorktown, and on the 20th the remainder of the army was ready to embark at Yorktown, Fortress Monroe, and Newport News. The movement of the main body of the army on this march was covered by General Pleasonton with his cavalry and horse artillery. That officer remained at Haxall’s until the army had passed Charles City Court House, when he #. fell back, E. up the stragglers as he proceeded, and crossed the ridge over the Chickahominy, after the main body had marched towards Williamsburg. His troops were the last to cross the bridge, and he deserves great credit for the manner in which he performed this duty. General Averill did a similar service, in the same satisfactory way, in covering the march of the 3d corps. As the campaign on the Peninsula terminated here, I cannot close this part