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the United States against the insurgent greatly larger expenditure of time and forces. That especially the army at and money than mine? about Fortress Monroe, the army of the “20. Wherein is a victory more certain Potomac, the army of Western Virginia, by your plan than mine? the army near Munfordsville, Kentucky, "3d. Wherein is a victory more valuable the army and flotilla at Cairo, and a naval by your plan than mine? force in the Gulf of Mexico, be ready to 4th. In fact, would it not be less valumove on that day.
able in this : that it would break no great "That all other forces, both land and line of the enemy's communications, while naval, with their respective commanders, / mine would ? obey existing orders for the time, and be “5th. In case of disaster, would not a ready to obey additional orders when duly retreat be more difficult by your plan than given.
mine? “That the heads of departments and “Your, truly, especially the Secretaries of War and of
“ABRAHAM LINCOLN. the Navy, with all their subordinates, and “Major-Gen. McClellan." the general-in-chief, with all other com
These questions were substantially anmanders and subordinates of land and naval forces, will severally be held to their
swered by the following letter of the same strict and full responsibilities for prompt
date to the Secretary of War: execution of this order.
"HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, “ABRAHAM LINCOLN.”
“Washington, Feb. 3, 1862. The order of January 31, 1862, was as c
“Sir: I ask your indulgence for the
following papers rendered necessary by follows:
circumstances. [President's Special War Order No. 1.] "I assumed command of the troops in
“EXECUTIVE MANSION, the vicinity of Washington on Saturday,
“Washington, Jan. 31, 1862. July 27, 1861, six day after the battle of " Ordered, That all the disposable force Buil run. of the army of the Potomac, after pro-, “I found no army to command; a mere viding safely for the defence of Washing collection of regiments cowering on the ton, be formed into an expedition for the banks of the Potomac, some perfectly raw. immediate object of seizing and occupying others dispirited by the recent defeat. a point upon the railroad southwestward “Nothing of any consequence had been of what is known as Manassas Junction, done to secure the southern approaches to all details to be in the discretion of the, the capital by means of defensive works : commander-in-chief, and the expedition to nothiog whatever had been undertaken 10 move before or on the 22d day of February defend the avenues to the city on the next.
northern side of the Potomac. “ABRAHAM LINCOLN." i "The troops were not only undisciplined, I asked his excellency whether this undrilled, and dispirited; they were not order was to be regarded as final, or even placed in military positions. The whether I could be permitted to submit in city was almost in a condition to have been writing my objections to his plan, and my taken by a dash of a regiment of cavalry. reasons for preferring my own. Permission “Without one day's delay I undertook was accorded, and I therefore prepared the difficult task assigned to me; that task the letter to the Secretary of War, which the honorable Secretary knows was given is given below.
I to me without solicitation or foreknowledge. Before this had been submitted to the How far I have accomplished it will best President he addressed me the following be shown by the past and the present. note:
“The capital is secure against attack. "EXECUTIVE MANSION, the extensive fortifications erected by the
“Washington, Feb. 3, 1862. labor of our troops enable a small garrison “My Dear Sir: You and I have to hold it against a numerous army, the distinct and different plans for a movement enemy have been held in check, the State of the arıny of the Potomac: yours to be of Maryland is securely in our possession, done by the Chesapeake, up the Rappa the detached counties of Virginia are hannock to Urbana, and across land to the again within the pale of our laws, and all terminus of the railroad on the York apprehension of trouble in Delaware is at river; mine to move directly to a point on an end; the enemy are confined to the the railroad south west of Manassas. positions they occupied before the disaster
“If you will give satisfactory answers 1 of the 21st July. More than all this, I to the following questions, I shall gladly have now under my command a well-drilled yield my plan to yours :
and reliable arıny, to which the destinies “ Ist. Does not your plan involve a l of the country may be confidently com
mitted. This army is young and untried and then seeking for the most decisive. in battle; but it is aniinated by the highest results. I do not wish to waste life in usespirit, and is capable of great deeds. | less battles, but prefer to strike at the
“That so much has been accomplished heart. and such an army created in so short a “Two bases of operation seem to present time, from nothing will hereafter be re- themselves for the advance of the army of garded as one of the highest glories of the Potomac: the administration and the nation.
“1st. That of Washington-its present * Many weeks, I may say many months position-involving a direct attack upon ago, this army of the Potomac was fully the intrenched positions of the enemy at in condition to repel any attack; but there Centreville, Manasses, &c., or else a moveis a vast difference between that and the ment to turn one or both flanks of those efficiency required to enable troops to attack positions, or a combination of the two successfully an army elated by victory and I plans. intrenched in a position long since selected, “The relative force of the two armies studied, and fortified.
will not justify an attack on both flanks : * In the earliest papers I submitted to an attack on bis left fank alone involves a the President, I asked for an effective and long line of wagon communication, and movable force far exceeding the aggregate cannot prevent him from collecting for the now on the banks of the Potomac. I have decisive battle all the detachments now on not the force I asked for.
his extreine right and left. “Even when in a subordinate position, IL “Should we attack his right flank by always looked beyond the operations of the line of the Occoquan, and a crossing of the army of the Potomac; I was never the Potomac below that river, and near his satisfied in my own inind with a barren batteries, we could perhaps prevent the victory, but looked to combined and junction of the enemy's right with his decisive operations.
centre, (we might destroy the former ;) - When I was placed in command of we would remove the obstructions to the the armies of the United States, I immedi- navigation of the Potomac, reduce the ately turned my attention to the whole field length of wagon transportation by estah. of operations, regarding the army of the lishing new depots at the nearest points of Potomac as only one, while the most im- the Potomac, and strike more directly his portant, of the masses under my command. main railway communication.
"I confess that I did not appreciate the “ The fords of the Occoquan below the total absence of a general plan which had mouth of the Bull run are watched by the before existed, nor did I know that utter rebels; batteries are said to be placed on disorganization and want of preparation the heights in the rear, (concealed by the pervaded the western armies.
woods.) and the arrangement of his troops "I took it for granted that they were is such that he can oppose some consider. nearly, if not quite, in condition to move able resistance to a passage of that stream. towards the fulfilment of my plans. I Information has just been received, to the acknowledge that I made a great mistake. I effect that the enemy are intrenching a line
* I sent at once-with the approval of of heights extending from the vicinity of the Executive officers I considered com- Sangster's (Union mills) towards Evans. petent to command in Kentucky and port. Early in January, Spriggs's ford Missouri. Their instructions looked to was occupied by Gen. Rhodes, with 3,600 prompt movements. I soon found that men and eight (8) guns; there are strong the labor of creation and organization bad reasons for believing that Davis's ford is to be performed there; transportation- occupied. These circumstances indicate arms-clothing_artillery-discipline, all or prove that the enemy anticipates the were wanting. These things required time movement in question, and is prepared to to procure them.
resist it. Assuming for the present that “ The generals in command have done this operation is determined upon, it may their work most creditably, but we are still be well to examine briefly its probable delayed. I had hoped that a general progress. In the present state of affairs, advance could be made during the good our column (for the movement of so large weather of December; I was mistaken a force must be made in several columns,
“My wish was to gain possession of the at least five or six) can reach the Acca. eastern Tennessee railroad, as a prelimi- tinck without danger; during the march nary movement, then to follow it up im- thence to the Occoquan, our right flank mediately by an attack on Naslıville and becomes exposed to an attack froin Fairfax Richmond, as nearly at the same time as station, Sangster's, and Union mills. This possible.
danger must be made by occupying in some “I have ever regarded our true policy force either the two first named places, or as being that of fully preparing ourselves better, the point of junction of the roads
leading thence to the village of Occoquan ; 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.
"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 run to 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 unless 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 pozition-say Brimstone hill or partly to force the enemy to abandon his nearer the (ccoquan. 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 manauvers. 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 before it is possible to commence the possible, we should gain the fords neces- march. Assuming the onccess 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 bacl as they well error of dividing our army by a very diffi- can be, and we would probably find our. cult 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 sea. forced 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 favorable 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 sucs 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 re. be 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 perfcctly secure retreat down the “Should circumstances render it not ad. Peninsula upon Fort Monroe, with our visable to land at Urbana, we can use Mob. flanks 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, wonld 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 hy 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 Presi. rons 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 118-I am sure of it. Let us, then, ferry them over the river by means of look only to the great result to be accomNorth 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 Rappahannock 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 ensued, 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 capalmost 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 ihe 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 abindon 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