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leading thence to the village of Occognan; 1 to enable the two parts to support each this occupation must be continued so long other, should either be attacked by the as we can continue to draw supplies by the masses of the enemy, while the other is roads from this city, or until a battle is held in check. won.
"I should perhaps have dwelt more “ The crossing of the Occoquan should decidedly on the fact that the force left be made at all the fords from Wolf's ronto | near Sangster's must be allowed to remain the mouth; the points of crossing not somewhere on that side of the Occoquan being necessarily confined to the fords until the decisive battle is over, so as to themselves. Shonld the enemy occupy | cover our retreat in the event of disaster, this line in force, we must, with what nnless it should be decided to select and assistance that flotilla can afford, endeavor intrench a new base somewhere near to force the passage near the mouth, thus Dumfries, a proceeding involving much forcing the enemy to abandon the whole time. line, or be taken in flank himself.
“ After the passage of the Occoquan by “ Having gained the line of the Occo- the main army, this covering force could quan, it would be necessary to throw a be drawn into a more central and less excolumn by the shortest route to Dumfries; ! posed position-say Brimstone hill or partly to force the enemy to abandon his nearer the Occoquan. In this latitude the batteries on the Potomac; partly to cover weather will for a considerable period be our left flank against an attack from the very uncertain, and a movement comdirection of Aquia ; and lastly, to estab-menced in force on roads in tolerably firm lish our communications with the river by condition will be liable, almost certain, to the best roads, and thus give us new be much delayed by rains and snow. It depots. The enemy would by this time will, therefore, be next to impossible to have occupied the line of the Occoquan surprise the enemy, or take him at a dis. above Bull run, holding Brentsville in advantage by rapid mancuvers. Our slow force, and perhaps extending his lines progress will enable him to divine our somewhat further to the southwest.
purposes, and take his measures accord“ Our next step would then be to pre-ingly. The probability is, from the best vent the enemy from crossing Occoquan | information we possess, that the enemy between Bull run and Broad run, to fall has improved the roads leading to his lines upon our right flank while moving on of defence, while we have to work as we Brentsville. This might be effected by advance. occupying Bacon Race church and the “Bearing in mind what has been said, cross-roads near the mouth of Bull run, or and the present unprecedented and imstili more effectually by moving to the fords passible condition of the roads, it will be themselves, and preventing him from de evident that no precise period can be fixed bouching on our side.
upon for the movement on this line. Nor “ These operations would possibly be can its duration be closely calculated; it resisted, and it would require some time to seems certain that many weeks may elapse effect them, as, nearly at the same time as I before it is possible to commence the possible, we should gain the fords neces- march. Assuming the guccess of this sary for our purposes above Broad run. operation, and the defeat of the enemy as Having secured our right flank, it would : certain, the question at once arises as to become necessary to carry Brentsville at the importance of the results gained. I any cost, for we could not leave it between think these results would be confined to the right flank and the main body. The the possession of the field of battle, the final movement on the railroad must be evacuation of the line of the upper Potodetermined by circumstances existing at mac by the enemy, and the moral effect of the time.
the victory; important results, it is true, “This brief sketch brings out in bold but not decisive of the war, nor securing relief the great advantage possessed by the destruction of the enemy's main army, the enemy in the strong central position for he could fall back upon other positions, he occupies, with roads diverging in every and fight us again and again, should the direction, and a strong line of defence condition of his troops permit. If he is in enabling him to remain on the defensive, no condition to fight us again out of the with a small force on one flank, while he range of the intrenchments at Richmond, concentrates everything on the other for a we would find it a very difficult and tedious decisive action.
matter to follow him up there, for he would “ Should we place a portion of our destroy his railroad bridges and otherwise force in front of Centreville, while the rest impede our progress through a region crosses the Occoquan, we commit the, where the roads are as bad as they well error of dividing our army by a very diffi- can be, and we would probably find ourcult obstacle, and by a distance too great selves forced at last to change the whole theatre of war, or to seek a shorter land , army in Georgia; to throw Halleck southroute to Richmond, with a smaller avail-ward to meet the naval expedition from able force, and at an expenditure of much New Orleans. more time, than were we to adopt the “ We should then be in a condition to short line at once. We would also have reduce at our leisure all the southern seaforced the enemy to concentrate his forces ports; to occupy all the avenues of comand perfect his defensive measures at the munication ; to use the great outlet of the very points where it is desirable to strike Mississippi; to re-establish our government him when least prepared.
and arms in Arkansas, Louisiana and * II. The second base of operations avail. | Texas; to force the slaves to labor for our able for the army of the Potomac is that subsistence, instead of that of the rebels ; of the lower Chesapeake bay, which affords to bid defiance to all foreign interference. the shortest possible land route to Rich- Such is the object I have ever had in view mond, and strikes directly at the heart of this is the general plan which I hope to the enemy's power in the east.
accomplish. “The roads in that region are passable “For many long months I have labored at all seasons of the year.
to prepare the army of the Potomac to play "The country now alluded to is much its part in the programme; from the day more farorable for offensive operations when I was placed in command of all our than that in front of Washington, (which armies, I have exerted myself to place all is very unfavorable,) much more level, more the other armies in such a condition that cleared land, the woods less dense, the soil they, too, could perform their allotted more sandy, and the spring some two or duties. three weeks earlier. A movement in force “Should it be determined to operate on that line obliges the enemy to abandon from the lower Chesapeake, the point of his intrenched position at Manassas, in landing which promises the most brilliant order to hasten to cover Richmond and result is Urbana, on the lower RappahanNorfolk. He must do this ; for should he nock. This point is easily reached by permit us to occupy Richmond, his de- vessels of heavy draught; it is neither ocstruction can be averted only by entirely cupied nor observed by the enemy-it is defeating us in a battle, in which he must but one march from West Point, the key be the assailant. This movement, if suc-of that region, and thence but two marches cessful, gives us the capital, the communi-to Richmond. A rapid movement from cations, the supplies of the rebels; Norfolk Urbana would probably cut off Magruder would fall; all the waters of the Chesa- in the Peninsula, and enable us to occupy peake would be ours; all Virginia would Richmond, before it could be strongly rebe in our power, and the enemy forced to enforced. Should we fail in that, we abandom Tennessee and North Carolina. could, with the co-operation of the navy, The alternative presented to the enemy cross the James and throw ourselves in would be, to beat us in a position selected rear of Richmond, thus forcing the enemy by ourselves, disperse, or pass beneath the to come out and attack us, for his position Candine forks.
would be untenable, with us on the south. * Should we be beaten in a battle, we ern bank of the river. have a perfectly secure retreat down the “Should circumstances render it not ad. Peninsula upon Fort Monroe, with our visable to land at Urbana, we can use Mobflanks perfectly covered by the fleet. jack bay; or, the worst coming to the
“During the whole movement our left worst, we can take Fort Monroe as a base, flank is covered by the water. Our right and operate with complete security, is secure, for the reason that the enemy is although with less celerity and brilliancy too distant to reach us in time; he can only of results—up the Peninsula. oppose us in front; we bring our fleet into “ To reach whatever point may be se full play.
lected as a base, a large amount of cheap “ After a successful battle our position water transportation must be collected, would be--Burnside forming our left- consisting mainly of canal-boats, barges, Norfold held securely-our centre connect-wood-boats, schooners, &c., towed by ing Burnside with Buell, both by Raleigh small steamers, all of a very different charand Lynchburg-Buell in eastern Ten-racter from those required for all previous nessee and North Alabama-Halleck at expeditions. This can certainly be accom Nashville and Memplis.
plished within thirty days from the time “The next movement would be to con- the order is given. I propose, as the best nect with Sherman on the left, by reduc- possible plan that can, in my judgment, be ing Wilmington and Charleston; to ad- adopted, to select Urbana as a landing vance our centre into South Carolina and place for the first detachment; to transport Georgia ; to push Buell either towards by water four divisions of infantry with Montgomery, or to unite with the main their batteries, the regular infantry, a few
wagons, one bridge train and a few squad-/ "I know that his excellency the Presirons of cavalry, making the vicinity of dent, you, and I, all agree in our wishes : Hooker's position the place of embarkation and that these wishes are, to bring this for as many as possible; to move the regu- war to a close as promptly as the means in lar cavalry and reserve, artillery, the re- our possession will permit. I believe that maining bridge trains and wagons, to a the mass of the people have entire confi. point somewhere near Cape Lookout, then dence in us—I am sure of it. Let us, then, ferry them over the river by means of look only to the great result to be acconiNorth River ferry-boats, march them over plished, and disregard everything else. to the Rappahannock, (covering the move- I am, very respectfully, your obedient ment by an infantry force near Heaths- servant. ville,) and to cross the Rappahanpock in a
“GEO, B. MCCLELLAN, similar way. The expense and difficulty
“ Maj. Gen. Commanding. of the movement will then be very much "E. M. Stanton, diminished, (a saving of transportation of “Sec. of War." about 10,000 horses, and the result none This letter must have produced some the less certain.
effect upon the mind of the President, since “ The concentration of the cavalry, &c., the execution of his order was not required, on the lower counties of Maryland can be although it was not revoked as formally as effected without exciting suspicion, and the it had been issued. Many verbal confermovement made without delay from that ences eosued, in which, among other things, cause.
it was determined to collect as many canal. “ This movement, if adopted, will not at boats as possible, with a view to employ all expose the city of Washington to dan- them largely in the transportation of the ger.
army to the lower Chesapeake. The idea "The total force to be thrown upon the was at one time entertained by the Presinew line would be, according to circum-dent to use them in forming a bridge across stances, from 110,000 to 140,000. I hope the Potomac near Liverpool point, in order to use the latter number by bringing fresh to throw the army over that point; but troops into Washington, and still leaving this was subsequently abandoned. It was it quite safe. I fully realize that in all also found by experience that it would reprojects offered, time will probably be the quire much time to prepare the canalmost valuable consideration. It is my de- boats for use in transportation, to the cided opinion that, in that point of view, exteut that had been anticipated. the second plan should be adopted. It is / Finally, on the 27th of February, 1862, possible, nay, highly probable, that the the Secretary of War, by the authority of weather and state of the roads may be such the President, instructed Mr. John Tucker, as to delay the direct movement from Assistant Secretary of War, to procure at Washington, with its unsatisfactory results once the necessary steamers and sailing and great risks, far beyond the time re- craft to transport the army of the Potomac quired to complete the second plan. In to its new field of operations. the first care we can fix no definite time The following extract from the report for an advance. The roads have gone of Mr. Tucker, dated April 5, will show from bad to worse. Nothing like their the nature and progress of this well-exepresent condition was ever known here cuted service: before; they are impassable at present. We are entirely at the mercy of the “I was called to Washington by teleweather. It is by no means certain that graph, on 17th January last, by Assistant we can beat them at Manassas. On the Secretary of War, Thomas A. Scott. I other line I regard success as certain by was informed that Maj. Gen. McClellan all the chances of war. We demoralize the wished to see me. From him I learned enemy by forcing him to abandon his pre- that he desired to know if transportation pared position for one which we have on smooth water could be obtained to chosen, in which all is in cur favor, and move at one time, for a short distance, where success must produce immense re. about 50,000 troops, 10,000 horses, 1,000 sults.
wagons, 13 batteries, and the usual equip“My judgment, as a general, is clearly ment of such an army. He frankly stated in favor of this project. Nothing is cer to me that he had always supposed such tain in war, but all the chances are in a movement entirely feasible, until two exfavor of this movement. So much am I in perienced quartermasters had recently refavor of the southern line of operations, ported it impracticable, in their judgment. that I would prefer the move from Fortress A few days afterwards, I reported to Gen. Monroe as a base -as a certain though less McClellan that I was entirely confident brilliant movement than that from Urbana, the transports could be commanded, and to an attack upon Manassas.
stated the mode by which his object could
be accomplished. A week or two after- ! “I respectfully, but confidently, submit wards I had the honor of an interview that, for economy and celerity of movewith the President and Gen. McClellan, ment, this expedition is without a parallel when the subject was further discussed, on record. especially as to the time required. "I expressed the opinion that, as the
“JOHN TUCKER, movement of the horses and wagons would
“ Assistant Sec. of War." have to be made chiefly by schooners and i
In the mean time the destruction of the barges, that as each schooner would re
batteries on the lower Potomac, by crossing quire to be properly fitted for the pro
our troops opposite them, was considered, tection of the horses, and furnished with a
and preparations were even made for throwsupply of water and forage, and each trans
ing Hooker's division across the river, to port for the troops provided with water, I
carry them by assault, Finally, however did not deem it prudent to assume that
after an adverse report from Brig. Gen. J. such an expedition could start within thirty i
G. Barnard, Chief Engineer, given below. days from the time the order was given. * The President and Gen. McClellan
wlio made a reconnoissance of the posi
| tions, and in view of the fact that it was both urgently stated the vast importance !
still out of the power of the Navy Departof an earlier movement. I replied that if
ment to furnish suitable vessels to co-operfavorable winds prevailed, and there was
ate with land troops, this plan was abangreat despatch in loading, the time might
" doned as impracticable. A close examibe materially diminished.
nation of the enemy's works and their ap“On the 14th February you (Secretary i of War) advertised for transports of var
proaches, made after they were evacuated,
showed that the decision was a wise one. ious descriptions, inviting bids on the 27th February. I was informed that the pro
The only means, therefore, of accomplish
ing the capture of these works, so much posed movement by water was decided
desired by the President, was by a moveupon. That evening the Quartermaster
ment by land, from the left of our lines, on Gen. was informed of the decision. Direc
the right bank of the Potomac-a movetions were giyen to secure the transporta
ment obviously unwise. tion—any assistance was tendered. He
The attention of the Navy Department, promptly detailed to this duty two most
as early as August 12, 1861, had been efticient assistants in his department. Col.
called to the necessity of maintaining a Rufus Ingalls was stationed at Annapolis,
strong force of efficient war vessels on the where it was then proposed to embark the troops, and Capt. Henry C. Hodges was
Potomac. directed to meet me in Philadelphia, to “HEADQUARTERS Division OF THE attend to chartering the vessels. With POTOMAC, Washington, Aug. 12, 1861. these arrangements I left Washington on i “SIR: I have to-day received additional the 28th February. * * * information which convinces me that it is
"I beg to hand herewith a statement, more than probable that the enemy will, prepared by Capt. Hodges, of the vessels within a very short time, attempt to throw chartered, which exhibits the prices paid, a respectable force from the mouth of and parties from whom they were taken: Aquia creek into Maryland. This attempt 113 steamers, at an average price per day.......$215 10 will probably be preceded by the erection IS8 schooners,
i es barges,
....... 24 45 of batteries at Matthias and White House . .. 14 27
points. Such a movement on the part of “ In thirty-seven days from the time I the enemy, in connection with others probreceived the order in Washington, (and ably designed, would place Washington in most of it was accomplished in thirty days,) great jeopardy. I most earnestly urge that these vessels transported from Perryville, the strongest possible naval force be at Alexandria and Washington to Fort Mon- once concentrated near the mouth of A quia roe (the place of departure having been creek, and that the most vigilant watch be changed, which caused delay,) 121,500 maintained day and night, so as to render men, 14,592 animals, 1,150 wagons, 44 such passage of the river absolutely imbatteries, 74 ambulances, besides pontoon possible. bridges, telegraph materials, and the enor. “I recommend that the Minnesota, and mous quantity of equipage, &c., required any other vessels available from Hampton for an army of such magnitude. The only Roads, be at once ordered up there, and loss of which I have heard is eight mules that a great quantity of coal be sent to that and nine barges, which latter went ashore vicinity, sufficient for several weeks' sipin a gale within a few miles of Fort Mon- ply. At least one strong war vessel should roe- the cargoes being saved. With this be kept at Alexandria, and I again urge trifling exception, not the slightest acci- the concentration of a strong naval force dent has occurred, to my knowledge. | on the Potomac without delay
“If the Naval Department will render it officers, and I concur with them, that had absolutely impossible for the enemy to an adequate force of strong and well-armed cross the river below Washington, the se- vessels been acting on the Potomac from curity of the capital will be greatly in the beginning of August, it would have creased.
been next to impossible for the rebels to “I cannot too earnestly urge an imme- have constructed or maintained batteries diate compliance with these requests. upon the bank of the river. The enemy “I am, sir, very respectfully,
nerer occupied Matthias point, nor any "Your obedient servant,
other point on the river, which was out of "GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN,
supporting distance from the main army. “ Maj. Gen. Commanding.
When the enemy commenced the con“Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of
struction of these batteries, the army of Navy."
the Potomac was not in a condition to pre
vent it. Their destruction by our army It was on the 27th of September, 1861, would have afforded but a temporary relief that Gen. Barnard, Chief Engineer, in com- unless we had been strong enough to hold pany with Capt. Wyman, of the Potomac the entire line of the Potomac. This could flotilla, had been instructed to make a re- be done either by driving the enemy from connoissance of the enemy's batteries as far Manassas and Aquia creek, by main force as Matthias point. In his report of his or by manævring to compel them to vacate observations, he says:
their positions. The latter course was “ Batteries at High point and Cockpit finally pursued, and with success. point, and thence down to Chopawampsic, About the 20th of February, 1862, addicannot be prevented. We may, indeed, tional measures were taken to secure the prevent their construction on certain reopening of the Baltimore and Ohio Railpoints, but along here somewhere the road. The preliminary operations of Gen. enemy can establish, in spite of us, as Lander for this object are elsewhere desmany batteries as he chooses. What is the cribed. remedy? Favorable circumstances, not to I have often observed to the President be anticipated nor made the basis of any and to members of the cabinet that the calculations, might justify and render suc- reconstruction of this railway could not be cessful the attack of a particular battery. undertaken until we were in a condition To suppose that we can capture all, and to fight a battle to secure it. I regarded by mere attacks of this kind prevent the the possession of Winchester and Strasnavigation being molested, is very much burg as necessary to cover the railway in the same as to suppose that the hostile the rear, and it was not till the month of army in our own front can prevent us build- February that I felt prepared to accoming and maintaining field-works to protect plish this very desirable but not vital purArlington and Alexandria by capturing | pose. them, one and all, as fast as they are The whole of Banks division and two built."
brigades of Sedgwick's division were thrown In another communication upon the sub-across the river at Harper's Ferry, leaving ject of crossing troops for the purpose of one brigade of Sedgwick's division to obdestroying the batteries on the Virginia serve and guard the Potomac from Great side of the Potomac, Gen. Barnard says: Falls to the mouth of the Monocacy. A
“ The operation involves the forcing of a sufficient number of troops of all arms very strong line of defence of the enemy, were held in readiness in the vicinity of and all that we would have to do if we Washington, either to march via Leesburg we were really opening a campaign against or to move by rail to Harper's Ferry, them there.
| should this become necessary in carrying “It is true we hope to force this line by out the objects in view. turning it, by landing on Freestone point. The subjoined notes from a communicaWith reason to believe that this may be tion subsequently addressed to the War successful, it cannot be denied that it Department, will sufficiently explain the involves a risk of failure. Should we, conduct of these operations. then, considering all the consequences which may be involved, enter into the ope
NOTES. ration, merely to capture the Potomac | “When I started for Harper's Ferry, I batteries? I think not. Will not the plainly stated to the President and SecreEricsson, assisted by one other gunboat tary of War, that the chief object of the capable of keeping alongside these bat- operation would be to open the Baltimore teries, so far control their fire as to keep and Obio Railroad by crossing the river in the navigation sufficiently free as long as i force at Harper's Ferry; that I had colwe require it? Capt. Wyman says yes." lected the material for making a permanent
It was the opinion of competent naval / bridge by means of canal-boats; thai from