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south of the Eastern Branch, and also on your right, and you will use every possible precaution to intercept mails, goods and persons passing unauthorized to the enemy's lines.
“The necessity of maintaining good order within your limits, and especially in the capital of the nation, cannot be too strongly enforced.
“You will forward and facilitate the movement of all troops destined for the active part of the army of the Potomac, and especially the transit of detachments to their proper regiments and corps.
“The charge of the new troops arriving in Washington, and of all troops temporarily there, will devolve upon you. You will form them into provisional brigades, promote their instruction and discipline, and facilitate their equipment. Report all arrivals of troops, their strength, composition and equipment, by every opportunity.
“Besides the regular reports and returns, which you will be required to render to the Adjutant General of the army, you will make to these headquarters a consolidated report of your command, every Sunday morning, and monthly returns on the first day of each month.
“The foregoing instructions are communicated by command of Major General McClellan.
“S. WILLIAMS, - “Assistant Adjutant General.
“Brigadier General J. S. WADsworth,
“Military Governor of the District of Columbia.”
. The Secretary of War had expressed a desire that I should communicate to the War Department my designs with regard to the employment of the army of the Potomac in an official form. I submitted, on the 19th of March, the following:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POToMAC,
“SIR: I have the honor to submit the following notes on the proposed operations of the active portion of the army of the Potomac. “The proposed plan of campaign is to assume Fort Monroe as the first base of operations, taking the line of Yorktown and West Point upon Richmond as the line of operations, Richmond being the objective point. It is assumed that the fall of Richmond involves that of Norfolk and the whole of Virginia; also, that we shall fight a decisive battle between West Point and Richmond, to give which battle the rebels will concentrate all their available forces, understanding, as they will, that it involves the fate of their cause. It therefore follows— “1st. That we should collect all our available forces and operate upon adjacent lines, maintaining perfect communication between our columns. “2d. That no time should be lost in reaching the field of battle. “The advantages of the peninsula between York and James rivers are too obvious to need explanation; it is also clear that West Point should as soon as #." be reached, and used as our main depot, that we may have the shortest ine of land transportation for our supplies, and the use of the York river. “There are two methods of reaching this point— “1st. By moving directly from Fort Monroe as a base, and trusting to the roads for our supplies, at the same time landing a strong corps as near Yorktown as possible, in order to turn the rebel lines of defence south of Yorktown; then to reduce Yorktown and Gloucester by a siege, in all probability involving a delay of weeks, perhaps. “2d. To make a combined naval and land attack upon Yorktown, the first object of the campaign. This leads to the most rapid and decisive results. To accomplish this, the navy should at once concentrate upon the York river all their available and most powerful batteries: its reduction should not in that case require many hours. A strong corps would be pushed up the York, under cover of the navy, directly upon West Point, immediately upon the fall of Yorktown, and we could at once establish our new base of operations at a distance of some twenty-five miles from Richmond, with every facility for developing and bringing into play the whole of our available force on either or both banks of the James. “It is impossible to urge too strongly the absolute necessity of the full co-operation of the navy as a part of this programme. Without it the operations may be prolonged for many weeks, and we may be forced to carry in front several strong positions which by their aid could be turned without serious loss of either time or men. “It is also of first importance to bear in mind the fact already alluded to, that the capture of Richmond necessarily involves the prompt fall of Norfolk, while an operation against Norfolk, if successful, as the beginning of the campaign, facilitates the reduction of Richmond merely by the demoralization of the rebel troops involved, and that after the fall of Norfolk we should be obliged to undertake the capture of Richmond by the same means which would have accomplished it in the beginning, having meanwhile afforded the rebels ample time to perfect their defensive arrangements, for they would well know, from the moment the army of the Potomac changed its base to Fort Monroe, that Richmond must be its ultimate object. “It may be summed up in a few words, that, for the prompt success of this campaign, it is absolutely necessary that the navy should at once throw its whole available force, its most powerful vessels, against Yorktown. There is the most important point—there the knot to be cut. An immediate decision upon the subject-matter of this communication is highly desirable, and seems called for by the exigencies of the occasion. “I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, “GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, Major General. “Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.”
In the mean time the troops destined to form the active army were collected in camps convenient to the points of embarcation, and every preparation made to embark them as rapidly as possible when the transports were ready.
A few days before sailing for Fort Monroe, while still encamped near Alexandria, I met the President, by appointment, on a steamer. He there informed me that he had been strongly pressed to take General Blenker's division from my command and give it to General Frémont. His excellency was good enough to suggest several réasons for not taking Blenker's division from me. I assented to the force of his suggestions, and was extremely gratified by his decision to allow the division to remain with the army of the Potomac. It was therefore with surprise that I received, on the 31st, the following note:
“EXECUTIVE MANSION, TWashington, March 31, 1862.
“My DEAR SIR: This morning I felt constrained to order Blenker's division to Frémont, and I write this to assure you that I did so with great pain, understanding that you would wish 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, “A. LINCOLN. “Major General McCLELLAN.”
To this I replied, in substance, that I regretted the order, and could ill afford to lose ten thousand troops which had been counted upon in forming my plan of campaign, but as there was no remedy, I would yield, and do the best I could without them. In a conversation with the President a few hours afterwards I repeated verbally the same thing, and expressed my regret that Blenker's di. vision had been given to General Frémont from any pressure other than the requirements of the national exigency. I was partially relieved, however, by the President's positive and emphatic assurance that I might be confident that no more troops beyond these ten thousand should in any event be taken from me, or in any way detached from my command. At the time of the evacuation of Manassas by the enemy, Jackson was at Winchester, our forces occupying Charlestown, and Shields's reaching Bunker Hill on the 11th. On the morning of the 12th, a brigade of General Banks’s troops, under General Hamilton, entered Winchester, the enemy having left at 5 o'clock the evening before, his rear guard of cavalry leaving an hour before our advance entered the place. The enemy having made his preparations for evacuation some days before, it was not possible to intercept his retreat. On the 13th the mass of Banks's corps was concentrated in the immediate vicinity of Winchester, the enemy being in the rear of Strasburg. On the 19th General Shields occupied Strasburg, driving the enemy twenty miles south to Mount Jackson. On the 20th the first division of Banks's corps commenced its movement towards Manassas, in compliance with my letter of instructions of the 16th. Jackson probably received information of this movement, and supposed that no force of any consequence was left in the vicinity of Winchester, and upon the falling back of Shields to that place, for the purpose of enticing Jackson in pursuit, the latter promptly followed, whereupon ensued a skirmish on the 22d, in which General Shields was wounded, and an affair at Winchester on the 23d, resulting in the defeat of Jackson, who was pursued as rapidly as the exhaustion of our troops and the difficulty of obtaining supplies permitted. It is presumed that the full reports of the battle of Winchester were forwarded direct to the War Department by General Banks. It being now clear that the enemy had no intention of returning by the Manassas route, the following letter of April 1 was written to General Banks:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE PoToMAC,
“GENERAL: The change in affairs in the valley of the Shenandoah has rendered necessary a corresponding departure, temporarily at least, from the plan we some days since agreed upon.
“In my arrangements I assume that you have with you a force amply sufficient to drive Jackson before you, provided he is not re-enforced largely. I also assume that you may find it impossible to detach anything towards Manassas for some days, probably not until the operations of the main army have drawn all the rebel force towards Richmond.
“You are aware that General Sumner has for some days been at Manassas Junction with two divisions of infantry, six batteries, and two regiments of cavalry, and that a reconnoissance to the Rappahannock forced the enemy to destroy the railway bridge at Rappahannock Station, on the Orange and Alexandria railroad. Since that time our cavalry have found nothing on this side the Rappahannock in that direction, and it seems clear that we have no reason to fear any return of the rebels in that quarter. Their movements near Fredericksburg also indicate a final abandonment of that neighborhood. I doubt whether Johnson will now re-enforce Jackson with a view of offensive operations. The time is probably passed when he could have gained anything by doing so. I have ordered in one of Sumner's divisions (that of Richardson, late Sumner's) to Alexandria for embarcation. Blenker's has been detached from the army of the Potomac and ordered to report to General Frémont.
“Abercrombie is probably at Warrenton Junction to-day. Geary is at White IPlains.
“Two regiments of cavalry have been ordered out, and are now on the way to relieve the two regiments of Sumner.
“Four thousand infantry and one battery leave Washington at once for Mamassas. Some three thousand more will move in one or two days, and soon after some three thousand additional. ~
“I will order Blenker to march on Strasburg and to report to you for temporary duty, so that should you find a large force in your-front you can avail yourself of his aid as soon as possible. Please direct him to Winchester, thence to report to the Adjutant General of the army for orders; but keep him until you are sure what you have in front.
“In regard to your own movements, the most important thing at present is to throw Jackson well back, and then to assume such a position as to enable you to prevent his return. As soon as the railway communications are re-established it will be probably important and advisable to move on Staunton, but this would require secure communications, and a force of from twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand for active operations. It should also be nearly coincident with my own move on Richmond, at all events not so long before it as to enable the rebels to concentrate on you, and then return on me. I fear that you cannot be ready in time, although it may come in very well with a force less than that I have mentioned, after the main battle near Richmond. When General Sumner leaves Warrenton Junction, General Abercrombie will be placed in immediate command of Manassas and Warrenton Junction, under your general orders. Please inform me frequently by telegraph and otherwise as to the state of things in your front.
“I am very truly yours, “GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, “Major General Commanding. Major General N. P. BANKs, Commanding Fifth Corps.
“P. S.—From what I have just learned, it would seem that the regiments of cavalry intended for Warrenton Junction have gone to Harper's Ferry. Of the four additional regiments placed under your orders, two should as promptly as possible move by the shortest route on Warrenton Junction. - “I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, “GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, “Major General, Commanding.”
This letter needs no further explanation than to say that it was my intention, had the operations in that quarter remained under my charge, either to have resumed the defensive position marked out in the letter of March 16, or to have advanced General Banks upon Staunton as might in the progress of events seem advisable.
It is to be remembered that when I wrote the preceding and following letters of April 1 I had no expectation of being relieved from the charge of the operations in the Shenandoah valley, the President's war order No. 3 giving no intimation of such an intention, and that so far as reference was made to final operations after driving Jackson back and taking such a position as to prevent his return, no positive orders were given in the letter, the matter being left for future consideration, when the proper time arrived for a decision.
From the following letter to the Adjutant General, dated April 1, 1862, it will be seen that I left for the defence of the national capital and its approaches, when I sailed for the Peninsula, 73,456 men, with 109 pieces of light artillery, * H. Ex. Doc. 15 5
including the 32 pieces in Washington alluded to, but not enumerated in my letter to the Adjutant General. It will also be seen that I recommended other available troops in New York (more than 4,000) to be at once ordered forward to re-enforce them. “Headquarters ARMY OF THE POToMAC, “Steamer Commodore, April 1, 1862.
“GENERAL: I have to request that you will lay the following communication before the Hon. Secretary of War. “The approximate numbers and positions of the troops left near and in rear of the Potomac are as follows: “General Dix has, after guarding the railroads under his charge, sufficient to give him 5,000 for the defence of Baltimore, and 1,988 available for the Eastern Shore, Annapolis, &c. Fort Delaware is very well garrisoned by about 400 men. “The garrisons of the forts around Washington amount to 10,600 men; other disposable troops now with General Wadsworth about 11,400 men. “The troops employed in guarding the various railways in Maryland amount to some 3,359 men. These it is designed to relieve, being old regiments, by dismounted cavalry, and to send forward to Manassas. “General Abercrombie occupies Warrenton with a force, which, including - Colonel Geary, at White Plains, and the cavalry to be at his disposal, will amount to some 7,780 men, with 12 pieces of artillery. “I have the honor to request that all the troops organized for service in Pennsylvania and New York, and in any of the eastern States, may be ordered to Washington. I learn from Governor Curtin that there are some 3,500 men now ready in Pennsylvania. This force I should be glad to have sent to Manassas. Four thousand men from General Wadsworth I desire to be ordered to Manassas. These troops, with the railroad guards above alluded to, will make up a force under the command of General Abercrombie of something like 18,639 men. “It is my design to push General Blenker's division from Warrenton upon Strasburg. He should remain at Strasburg long enough to allow matters to assume a definite form in that region before proceeding to his ultimate destination. “The troops in the valley of the Shenandoah will thus—including Blenker's division, 10,028 strong, with 24 pieces of artillery; Banks's 5th corps, which embraces the command of General Shields, 19,687 strong, with 41 guns, some 3,652 disposable cavalry, and the railroad guards, about 2,100 men—amount to about 35,467 men. “It is designed to relieve General Hooker by one regiment, say 850 men,
being, with some 500 cavalry, 1,350 men on the lower Potomac. -
“There would thus be left for the garrisons and the front of Washington, under General Wadsworth, some 18,000, inclusive of the batteries under instruction. The troops organizing or ready for service in New York, I learn, will robably number more than four thousand. These should be assembled at W. subject to disposition where their services may be most required. “I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, “GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, “Major General, Commanding.
“Brig. Gen. L. Thomas,