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possible to subsist his men, Gen. Stoneman! “The enemy blew up the briige in his was forced to return after reaching Cedar retreat. There was skirmishing during run.

the march, and a few shots exchanged by The following despatch from him recites the artillery, without any loss on our part. the result of this expedition.

Their loss, if any, is not known. Gen.

Howard will return to this camp to-morrow “HEADQUARTERS, Union Mills, “March 16, 1862.

J morning.

"E. V. SUMNER, Brig.-Gen. “We arrived here last evening about “Gen. S. WILLIAMS." dark. We got corn for horses; no pro

| The line of the Rappahannock and the visions for men. Bull run too high to

Manassas Gap railroad was thus left reacross. Had we stayed an hour longer we should not have got here to-day, owing to

sonably secure froin menace by any consi

derable body of the enemy. the high water in the streams. Felt the

On the 13th of March a council of war enemy cautiously, and found him in force at Warrenton Junction. Saw two regi

was assembled at Fairfax Court-house to

discuss the military status. The Presi. ments of cavalry and three bodies of infantry on the other side of Cedar run.

dent's order No. 3. of March 8th, was con

sidered. The following is a memorandum Hlad we crossed, should not have been able inco C hich woon math of the proceedings of the council : to get back for high water. Had three men of 5th cavalry hit driving in enemy's “HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, pickets; one slightly wounded in the head.

“Fairfax, March 13, 1863. Enemy acted confidently, and followed us! “A council of the generals commanding some way back on the road, but did not army corps, at the headquarters of the armolest us in any way. Enemy's force con- my of the Potomac, were of the opinionsisted of Stuart's and Ewell's cavalry, a « I. That the enemy having retreated battery of artillery, and some infantry. from Manassas to Gordonsville, behind the Railroad bridges all burned down up to 'Rappahannock and Rapidan, it is the Warrenton Junction; still entire beyond, opinion of the generals commanding army but all in readiness to burn at a moment's corps that the operations to be carried on warning, having dry wood piled upon them. will be best undertaken from Old Point Heard cars running during night before Comfort, between the York and James last; probably bringing up troops from ! rivers: Provided. Rappahannock. Heard of two regiments “ 1st. That the enemy's vessel, Merri. of infantry at Warrenton engaged in im- | mac, can be neutralized. pressing the militia and securing forage.

"2d. That the means of transportation, Heard of a large force of infantry this sufficient for an immediate transfer of the side of Rappalannock river, having come force to its new base, can be ready at up to Warrenton Junction from Aquia Washington and Alexandria to move down creek day before yesterday. Bridges all the Potomac : and. destroved this side of Broad run. The “3d. That a vaval auxiliary force can aides who take this will give you further be had to silence, or aid in silencing the particulars.

enemy's batteries on the York river., “Very respectfully, &c.,

"4ih. That the force to be left to cover “GEORGE STONEMAN,

Washington shall be such as to give an “ Brig.-Gen. Comd'g. | entire feeling of security for its safety “ Col. COLBURN.'

from menace. (Unanimous.) The main body of the army was, on the “II. If the foregoing cannot be, the 15th of March, moved back to the vicinity | army should then be moved against the of Alexandria to be embarked, leaving a enemy, behind the Rappahannock, at the part of Gen. Sumner's corps at Manassas i carliest possible moment, and the means until other troops could be sent to relieve

for reconstructing bridges, repairing rail. it. Before it was withdrawn a strong roads, and stocking them with materials reconnoissance, under Gen. Howard, was sufficient for supplying the army, should sent towards the Rappahannock, the re- at once be collected, for both the Orange sult of which appears in the following

and Alexandria and Aquia and Richmond despatch:

railroads. (Unanimous.)

"N. B.-'That with the furts on the right “WARRENTON JUNCTION,

bank of the Potomac fully garrisoned, and “March 29, 1862.

those on the left bank occupied, a covering "Express just received from Gen. How-force in front of the Virginia line of 25,000 ard. He drove the enemy across the men would suffice. (Keys, Heintzelman, Rappahannock bridge, and is now in camp / and McDowell.) A total of 40,000 men on this bank of and near the Rappalan- for the defence of the city would suffice. pock river.

! (Sumner.”)

This was assented to by myself, and "To recapitulate, the most important immediately communicated to the War points which should engage your attention Department. The following reply was are as follows: received the same day:

"1. A strong force, well intrenched, in “WAR DEPARTMENT, March 13, 1862.

the vicinity of Manassas, perhaps even "The President having considered the

| Centreville, and another force, (a brigade,)

| also well intrenched, near Strasburg. plan of operations agreed upon by yourself and the commanders of army corps, makes

"2. Block-houses at the railway bridges.

“3. Constant employment of the cavno objections to the same, but gives the

alry well to the front. following directions as to its execution; “I. Leave such force at Manassas Junc- !

“4. Grand guards at Warrenton Junction as shall make it entirely certain that

ition and in advance, as far as the Rappathe enemy shall not repossess himself of

| hannock, if possible. that position and line of communication.

“5. Great care to be excercised to ob"2. Leave Washington entirely secure.

tain full and early information as to the “3. Move the remainder of the force

enemy.

“6. The general object is to cover the down the Potomac, choosing a new base

line of the Potomac and Washington. at Fortress Monroe, or anywhere between

“The above is communicated by comhere and there, or, at all events, move such remainder of the army at once in pursuit

mand of Maj. Gen. McClellan.

“S. WILLIAMS, of the enemy by some route.

“Assistant Adj. Gen. “ EDWIN M. STANTON, “ Sec. of War.

* Major-Gen. N. P. Banks, “Major-Gen. G. B. McCLELLAN.”

“Commanding Fifth Corps, Army of the

Potomac.” My preparations were at once begun in accordance with these directions, and on “HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, the 16th of March the following instruc

"March 16, 1862. tions were sent to Gens Banks and Wads- “ Sir: The command to which you have worth:

been assigned, by instructions of the “HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, President, as military governor of the

“March 16th, 1862. District of Columbia, embraces the geo. “Sır; You will post your command in graphical limits of the District, and will the vicinity of Manassas, intrench yourself also include the city of Alexandria, the strongly, and throw cavalry pickets well | defensive works south of the Potomac out to the front.

from the Occoquan to Difficult creek, and “ Your first care will be the rebuilding the post of Fort Washington. of the railway from Washington to Manas- ' “Ì enclose a list of the troops and of sas and to Strasburg, in order to open the defences embraced in these limits. your communications with the valley of l “ General Banks will command at Ma. the Shenandoah. As soon as the Manas-nassas Junction, with the divisions of Wilsas Gap railway is in running order, in- liams and Shields, composing the fifth trench à brigade of infantry, say four regi corps, but you should, nevertheless, exerments, with two batteries, at or near the cise vigilance in your front, carefully point where the railway crosses the She- guard the approaches in that quarter, and Dandoah. Something like two regiments maintain the duties of advanced guards. of cavalry should be left in that vicinity to You will use the same precaution on either occupy Winchester, and thoroughly scour flank. the country south of that railway and up! “All troops not actually needed for the the Shenandoah valley, as well as through police of Washington and Georgetown, Chester gap, which might perhaps be ad. for the garrison north of the Potomac, and vantageously occupied by a detachment for other indicated special duties, should of infantry, well intrenched. Block-houses be moved to the south side of the river. should be built at all the railway bridges. “In the centre of your front you should Occupy by grand guards Warrenton Junc- post the main body of your troops, and tion and Warrenton itself, and also some | proper proportions at suitable distances little more advanced point on the Orange toward your right and left flanks. Careand Alexandria railroad, as soon as the ful patrols will be made, in order thorailway bridge is repaired.

roughly to scour the country in front, from “ Great activity should be observed by right to left. the cavalry. Besides the two regiments It is specially joined upon you to main. at Manassas, another regiment of cavalry tain the forts and their armaments in the will be at your disposal, to scout towards best possible order, to look carefully to the Occoquan, and probably a fourth to the instruction and discipline of their gar. vards Leesburg.

) risons, as well as all other troops under

your command, and, by frequent and rigid / and West Point upon Richmond as the inspections, to insure the attainment of line of operations, Richmond being the these ends.

objective point. It is assumed that the “ The care of the railways, canals, de- , fall of Richmond involves that of Norfolk pots, bridges and ferries, within the above- and the whole of Virginia ; also, that we named limits, will devolve upon yon, and shall fight a decisive battle between West you are to insure their security and pro- Point and Richmond, to give which battle vide for their protection by every means the rebels will concentrate all their availin your power. You will also protect the able forces, understanding, as they will, depots of the public stores and the transit that it involves the fate of their cause. It of stores to troops in active service. therefore follows

“By means of patrols you will thoroughly “Ist. That we should collect all our scour the neighboring country, south of available forces and operate upon adjacent the Eastern Branch, and also on your right, lines, maintaining perfect communication and you will use every procaution to inter- between our columns cept mails, goods and persons passing un- “2d. That no time should be lost in authorized to the enemy's lines.

reaching the battle field. “The necessity of maintaining good or | “The advantages of the Penninsula beder within your limits, and especially in tweep York and James rivers are too obthe capital of the nation, cannot be too vious to need explanation; it is also clear strongly enforced.

that West Point should as soon as possi“You will forward and facilitate the ble be reached, and used as our main depot movements of all troops destined for the that we may have the shortest line of lan: active part of the army of the Potomac, transportation for our supplies, and the and especially the transit of detachments use of York river. to their proper regiments and corps.

“ There are two methods of reaching “The charge of the new troops arriving this pointin Washington, and of all troops tempora- “Ist. By moving directly from Fort rily there, will devolve upon you. You Monroe as a base, and trusting to the will form them into provisional brigades, roads for our supplies, at the same time promote their instruction and discipline, landing a strong corps as near Yorktown and facilitate their equipment. Report all as possible, in order to turn the rebel lines arrivals of troops, their strength, compo- of defence south of Yorktown; then to sition and equipment, by every opportu- reduce Yorktown and Gloucester by a nity.

siege, in all probability involving a delay "Besides the regular reports and re- of weeks, perhaps. turns, which you will be required to ren- ! “2d. To inake a combined naval and der to the Adjutant-General of the army, land attack upon Yorktown, the first obyou will make to these headquarters a con- / ject of the campaign. This leads to the solidated report of your command, every most rapid and decisive results. To acSunday morning, and monthly returns on complishi this, the navy should at once the first day of each month.

concentrate upon the York river all thet: “ The foregoing instructions are com available and most powferful batteries : its municated by command of Maj. Gen. Mc- reduction should not in that case require Clellan.

many hours. A strong corps would "S. WILLIAMS, be pushed up the York, under cover

"Assistant Adj. Gen. of the navy, directly upon West Point, « Brig. Gen. J. S. WADSWORTH,

immediately upon the fall of Yorktown “ Military Governer, Dist. of Columbia." and we could at once establish our new The Secretary of War had expressed a

base of operations at a distance of some desire that I should communicate to the

| twenty-five miles from
we

Richmond, with War Department my designs with regard

every facility for developing and bringing to the employment of the army of the Po

into play the whole of our available forces tomac in an official form. I submitted, on

on either or both banks of the James.

i “It is impossible to urge too strongly the 19th day of March the following:

the absolute necessity of the full co-opera“ HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, tion of the navy as a part of this pro

“Theo. Sem., Va., March 19, 1862. gramme. Without it the operations may “Sir: I have the honor to submit the be prolonged for many weeks, and we may following notes on the proposed operations be forced to carry in front several strong of the active portion of the army of the positions which by their aid could be turned Potomac.

without serioas loss of either time or men. “The proposed plan of campaign is to “It is also of first importance to bear in assume Fort Monroe as the first base of mind the fact already alluded to, that the operations, taking the line of Yorktown capture of Richmond necessarily involves

the prompt fall of Norfolk, while an opera- | that the commander-in-chief may order tion against Norfolk, if successful, as the what he pleases. beginning of the campaign, facilitates the

“Yours, very truly, reduction of Richmond merely by the de

“A. LINCOLN. moralization of the rebel troops involved,

"Maj. Gen McClellan." and that after the fall of Norfolk we should he obliged to undertake the capture of To this' I replied, in substance, that I Richmond by the same means which would / regretted the order, and could ill afford to have accomplished it in the beginning, lose ten thonsand troops which had been having meanwhile afforded the rebels am- | counted upon in forming my plan of cample time to perfect their defensive arrange-paign, but as there was no remedy I would ments, for they would well know, from the yield, and do the best I could without moment the army of the Potomac changed them. In a conversation with the Presiits base to Fort Monroe, that Richmond dent a few hours afterwards I repeated must be its ultimate object.

verbally the same thing, and expressed my “It may be summed up in a few words, / regret that Blenker's division had been that, for the prompt success of this cam-| given to Gen. Fremont from any pressure paign, it is absolutely necessary that the i other than the requirements of the national navy should at once throw its whole avail exigency. I was partially relieved, howable force, its most powerful vessels, ever, by the President's positive and emagainst Yorktown. There is the most im- phatic assurance that I might be confident portant point-there the knot to be cut. / that no more troops beyond these ten thouAn immediate decision upon the subject- sand should in any event be taken from matter of this communication is highly me, or in any way detached from my coindesirable, and seems called for by the exi- | mand. gencies of the occasion.

At the time of the evacuation of Manas: "I am, sir, very respectfully, your obesas by the enemy, Jackson was at Windient servant,

chester, our forces oocupying Charlestown, “GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, and Shield's reaching Bunker Hill on the

“ Major-Gen. 11th. On the morning of the 12th, a “Hon. E. M. Stanton,

brigade of Gen. Bank's troops, under Gen. “ Sec. of War."

Hamilton, entered Winchester, the enemy

having left at 5 o'clock the evening before, In the mean time the troops destined to his rear guard of cavalry leaving an hour form the aotive army were collected in before our advance entered the place. The camps convenient to the points of embar- enemy having made his preparations for cation, and every preparation made to em- evacuation some days before, it was not bark them as rapidly as possible when the possible to intercept his retreat. On the transports were ready.

13th the mass of Bank's corps was concen. A few days before sailing for Fort Mon- trated in the immediate vicinity of Winroe, while still encamped near Alexandria, chester, the enemy being in the rear of I met the President, by appointment, on a Strasburg. steamer. He there informed me that he On the 19th Gen. Shields occapied had been strongly pressed to take Gen. Strasburg, driving the enemy twenty miles Blenker's division from my command and south to Mount Jackson. give it to Gen. Fremont. His excellency On the 20th the first division of Bank's was good enough to suggest several reasons corps commenced its movement towards for not taking Blenker's division from me. Manassas, in compliance with my letter of I assented to the force of his suggestions, instructions of the 16th. and was extremely gratified by his decision i Jackson probably received information to allow the division to remain with the of this movement, and supposed that no army of the Potomac. It was therefore force of any consequence was left in the with surprise that I received, on the 31st, vicinity of Winchester, and upon the fall. the following note :

ing back of Shields to that place, for the

purpose of enticing Jackson in pursuit, the “ EXECUTIVE Mansion,

| latter promptly followed, whereupon en“Washington, March 31, 1862. sued a skirmish on the 22d, in which Gen. “MY DEAR SIR : This morning I felt Shields was wounded, and an affair at Winconstrained to order Blenker's division to chester on the 23d, resulting in the defeat Fremont, and I write this to assure you of Jackson, who was pursued as rapidly as that I did so with great pain, understand the exhaustion of our troops and the diffiing that you would wish it otherwise. If culty of obtaining supplies permitted. It you could know the full pressure of the is presumed that the full reports of the case, I am confident that you would justify, battle of Winchester were forwarded direct it, even beyond a mere acknowledgment I to the War Department by Gen. Banks.

It being now clear that the enemy had! “In regard to your own movements, the no intention of returning by the Manassas most important thing at present is to route, the following letter of April 1, was throw Jackson well back, and then to written to Gen. Banks :

assume such a position as to enable you to

prevent his return. As soon as the rail“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

way communications are re-estabtished it “On board the Commodore, April 1, 1862. will be probably important and advisable

“GENERAL : The change in affairs in the to move on Staunton, but this would revalley of the Shenandoah has rendered quire secure communications, and a force necessary a corresponding departure, tem of from twenty-fire thousand to thirty thouporarily at least, from the plan we some sand for active operations. It should also days since agreed upon.

be nearly coincident with my own move on * In my arrangements I assume that you | Richmond, at all events not so long before have with you a force amply sufficient to it as to enable the rebels to concentrate on drive Jackson before you, provided he is you, and then return on me. I fear that not re-enforced largely. I also assume that you cannot be ready in time, although it you may find it impossible to detach any may come in very well with a force less thing towards Manassas for some days, than that I have mentioned, after the main probably not until the operations of the battle near Richmond. When Gen. Summain army have drawn all the rebel force ner leaves Warrenton Junction, Gen. towards Richmond.

| Abercrombie will be placed in immediate "You are aware that Gen. Sumner has command of Manassas and Warrenton for some days been at Manassas Junction Junction, under your general orders.. with two divisions of infantry, six batteries, Please inform me frequently by telegraph and two regiments of cavalry, and that a and otherwise as to the state of things in reconnoissance to the Rappahannock your front. forced the enemy to destroy the railway | “I am very truly yours. bridge at Rappahannock Station, on the

“ GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Orange and Alexandria railroad. Since

Maj. Gen. Com. that time our cavalry have found nothing on this side the Rappahannock in that di Maj. Gen. N. P. BANKS, rection, and it seems clear that we have no

• Com. Fifth Corps. reason to fear any return of the rebels in “P, S.-From what I have just learned, that quarter. Their movements near it would seem that the regiments of cavalry Fredericksburg also indicate a final aban- intended for Warrenton Junction have donment of that neighborhood. I doubt gone to Harper's Ferry. Of the four adwhether Johnson will now re-enforce Jack ditional regiments placed under yonr son with a view of offensive operations. orders, two should as promptly as possible The time is probably passed when he could nove by the shortest route on Warrenton have gained anything by doing so. I have Junction. ordered in one of Sumner's division (that “I am sir, very respectively, your obedi. of Richardson, late Sumner's) to Alexan- ent servant, dria for embarcation. Blenker's has been

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN. detached from the army of the Potomac

Maj. Gen. Com." and ordered to report to Gen. Fremont.

" Abercrombie is probably at Warren- This letter needs no further explanation ton junction to-day. Geary is at White than to say that it was my intention, had Plains.

the operations in that quarter remained • Two regiments of cavalry have been under my charge, either to have resumed ordered out, and are now on the way to the defensive position marked out in the relieve the two regiments of Sumner. letter of March 16, or to have advanced

“ Four thousand infantry and one battery Gen. Banks upon Staunton as might in the leave Washington at once for Manassas. progress of events seem advisible. Some three thousand more will move in one It is to be remembered that when I or two days, and soon after some three wrote the preceding and following letters thousand additional.

of April 1, I had no expectation of being “I will order Blenker to march on relieved from the charge of the operations Strasburg and to report to you for tem- in the Shenandoah valley, the President's porary duty, so that should you find a war order No. 3 giving no intimation of large force in your front you can avail such an intention, and that so far as referyourself of his aid as soon as possible.ence was made to final operations after Please direct him to Winchester, thence driving Jackson back and taking such a to report to the Adj. Gen. of the army for position as to prevent his return, no posiorders; but keep him until you are sure tive orders were given in the letter, the what you have in front.

| matter being left for further consideration,

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