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CHAPTER L X XI X.
GENERAL MCCLELLAN'S ADVANCE INTO VIRGINIA-REMOVAL FROM HIS COMMAND,
NOVEMBER 7, 1862.
The defeat of the enemy at the battle troops about the capital, leaving only a of Antietam, though not a decisive vij- garrison, promising, “if I am reinforced, tory in arresting the war, was a sigrifi- as I ask, and am allowed to take my own cant indication of the future fortunes of course, I will hold myself responsible for the struggle, and might well be received the safety of Washington." at the North with heartfelt congratula- To ascertain the condition of the army tions, succeeding, as it did, to a series of and make himself acquainted with the disasters suffered by the Army of the scene of the recent military operations, Potomac. Much disappointment, how-President Lincoln, on the 1st of October, ever, was expressed at the successful re- visited the camps in the vicinity of Hartreat across the Potomac of the baffled per's Ferry, reviewed the troops, whose host, which, inferior in numbers and condition he found to be, upon the equipment and with the discouragement whole, satisfactory, and was everywhere of their heavy losses, speedily-as the re- in Maryland, on his route, received with connoissances sent over the river learnt enthusiasm. On his return to Washing. to their cost-took up a position in Vir- | ton, General Halleck, on the 6th of Ocginia, from which General McClellan tober, sent an explicit order to General thought it inexpedient for the time to McClellan : The President directs that make any attempt to dislodge them. you cross the Potomac and give battle to The battle of Antietam was fought on the enemy or drive him South. Your the 17th of September. Ten days after, army must move now while the roads are when the losses of the day had been as- good." The President, it was added, adcertained and an estimate formed of the vised the passage of the river below strength of the army, General McClellan Harper's Ferry, by which an interior pronounced it the best policy to retain line might be gained, Washington prohis forces on the north bank of the river, tected, and large reinforcements added render Harper's Ferry secure and watch to the army. In reply, the next day, the movements of the enemy until the General McClellan stated his preference rise of the Potomac should render a of and determination to advance upon new invasion of Maryland impractic- the line of the Shenandoah for immediate able ; when, as it appeared advantage- operations against the enemy near Winous, he might move on Winchester, or chester. It offered greater facilities, he “devote a reasonable time to the organ- | thought, for supplying the army, and to ization of the army and instruction of abandon it would be to leave Maryland the new troops preparatory to an ad- uncovered for another invasion. vance on whatever line may be deter- General Halleck, at the same time, in mined. In any event, I regard it as ab- a letter to General McClellan, replied to solutely necessary to send new regiments the latter's suggestions, that the army at once to the old corps for purposes of must move, with its crippled regiments, instruction, and that the old regiments without waiting for the new men from be filled at once.” At the same time he the draft. “The country," he wrote, called upon General Halleck for the “ is becoming very impatient at the want
of activity in your army, and we must branch of the Coneocheague. The expepush it on. I am satisfied that the ene- dition was also specially authorized to my are falling back towards Richmond. supply itself with horses and “other neWe must follow them and seek to punish cessary articles on the list of legal capthem. There is a decided want of legs tures." All citizens met with on the in our troops. They have too much im- way, who were likely to give informamobility, and we must try to remedy the tion to the Union army, were to be ardefect.”
rested, and citizens of Pennsylvania, The same day General McClellan is- holding state or government offices, were sued a proclamation to the army, calling to be brought off as hostages, or “the attention to the recent Emancipation means of exchanges for our own citizens Proclamation by the President, of the that have been carried off by the enemy." 22d of September, which, with the pro- The region about Cumberland was to be ceedings relating to it, the reader will watched for a safe return, unless the exfind in a subsequent chapter. “A pro- pedition was led to the East, when it was clamation," said he,“ of such grave mo- expected to cross the Potomac in the ment to the nation, officially communi-vicinity of Leesburg. Armed with these cated to the army, affords to the Gen- instructions, General Stuart left the main eral commanding an opportunity of de- camp of the enemy, at Winchester, on fining specifically to the officers and sol- the 9th, and making his way, by Darksdiers under his command the relation ville and Hedgesville, with a cavalry borne by all persons in the military ser- force of eighteen hundred men and four vice of the United States towards the pieces of horse artillery, under command civil authorities of the government. The of Brigadier-General Hampton and ColoConstitution confides to the civil authori-nels W. H. F. Lee and Jones, at dayties, legislative, judicial and executive, the light the next day, with slight oppopower and duty of making, expounding sition, crossed the Potomac at McCoy's and executing the federal laws. Armed Ford, between Williamsport and Hanforces are raised and supported simply cock. He then learnt that the division to sustain the civil authorities, and are of General Cox, after its service with to be held in strict subordination thereto Pope and McClellan, had just passed in all respects. This fundamental rule westward, on its return to the Kanawha. of our political system is essential to the “Striking directly across the national security of our republican institutions, road,” continues General Stuart in his and should be thoroughly understood report, “I proceeded in the direction of and observed by every soldier.”
Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, which point The Army of the Potomac was now was reached about twelve M. I was exaroused by another adventurous raid of tremely anxious to reach Hagerstown, the rebel cavalry General Stuart, simi- where large supplies were stored ; but lar to his exploit on the Peninsula. On was satisfied from reliable information the 8th of October, the Confederate | that the notice the enemy had of my apGeneral Lee ordered an expedition into proach and the proximity of his forces, Maryland, directing Stuart, with a de- would enable him to prevent my capturtachment of from twelve to fifteen hun- ing it. I therefore turned towards Chamdred well-mounted men, to cross the bersburg. I did not reach this point Potomac above Williamsport, and leav- till after dark, in a rain. I did not deem ing Hagerstown and Greencastle on the it safe to defer the attack till morning, right, to proceed to the rear of Cham- nor was it proper to attack a place full bersburg, in Pennsylvania, and endeavor of women and children without summonto destroy the railroad bridge over the ing it first to surrender. I accordingly sent in a flag of truce, and found no ernment property, Stuart's party made military or civil authority in the place ; prize, at Chambersburg, of a moderate but some prominent citizens who met the quantity of slioes and clothing, and the officer were notified that the place would more valuable spoil of some eight hunbe occupied, and if any resistance were dred horses from gentlemen's and farmmade the place would be shelled in ers' stables. Colonel A. K. McClure, three minutes. Brigadier-General Wade of the town, who escaped capture, but not Hampton's command, being in advance, spoliation, has given a good-humored actook possession of the place, and I count of his enforced hospitalities to a pointed him Military Governor of portion of the raiders, at the close of city. No incidents occurred during which he pleasantly pays a passing comnight, during which it rained continu- pliment to his guests. “Our people," ously. The officials all fled the town on says he, “generally feel that, bad as they our approach, and no one could be found are, they are not so bad as they might who would admit that he held office in be. I presume that the cavalry we had the place. About two hundred and with us are the flower of the rebel army. seventy-five sick and wounded in hospi- They are made up mainly of young men tal were paroled. During the day a in Virginia, who owned fine horses and large number of horses of citizens were have had considerable culture. I should seized and brought along. The wires not like to risk a similar experiment were cut, and railroads were obstructed. with their infantry.'* Next morning it was ascertained that a The greatest sufferer, in fact, by this large number of small arms and muni- expedition, appears to have been General tions of war were stored about the rail McClellan, the raid affording a new arguroad buildings, all of which that could ment to the War Department for his im· not be easily brought away were destroy- mediate advance upon the enemy-a
ed-consisting of about five thousand proceeding which would seem to have new muskets, pistols, sabres, ammunition ; been opposed to his better judgment. also a large assortment of army clothing. He called upon the government for The extensive machine-shops and depot horses to remount his dismounted caybuildings of the railroad and several trains alry soldiers, that he might oppose these of loaded cars were entirely destroyed." rebel raids ; a request which brought
From Chambersburg General Stuart from the President a suggestion, that took the road eastwardly towards Get- if the enemy had more occupation south trsburg, turning into Maryland by Em- of the river, bis cavalry would not be so metsburg, and thence by way of Fred- likely to make raids north of it.” A few erick, crossing the Baltimore and Ohio days after, the President wrote at length railroad to the vicinity of Poolesville. to General McClellan, reviewing the adHere he met the advance of General vantages and disadvantages of the onPleasanton's cavally, which had started wård movement, which he had advised from the camp at Sharpsburg in pursuit below the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge. of the invaders. There was some skir-With regard to transportation, which had inishing, with little injury to either side, been stated as defective, it was urged . Stuart succeeding in crossing the river that the Union army was certainly better before reinforcements could come up to off in that respect than the enemy, who assist the small force of Pleasanton, who managed very formidable movements, had conducted the march with extraor- and that to supply it fully, would “ignore dinary vigor, accomplishing ninety miles the question of time, which cannot and iu twenty-four hours. Besides the dam
1 * Letter of Colonel A. H. McClure, Chambersburg, Pa., age they inflicted on railway and gov- October, 1862. Rebellion Record, vol. 6, p. 1.
must not be ignored.” “ Again," con- followed by the corps of General Burntinued the President, " one of the stand- side. General Sedgwick and General ard maxims of war, as you know, is to Hancock in the lower part of the Shenanoperate upon the enemy's communica- d ah valley, about Charlestown, pressed tions as much as possible, without ex- t enemy, who now began their retreat posing your own. You seem to act astards Richmond, leaving a sufficient if this applies against you, but cannot ison at Harper's Ferry. The Union apply in your favor. Change positions 's occupied the passes of the Blue with the enemy, and think you not he hoc, e. Snicker's Gap was taken posseswould break your communication with bøf by General Hancock, on the 20 Richmond within the next twenty-four meansyember, wbile General Pleasanton, hours? You dread his going into Penn- with his cavalry, was driving the enemy sylvania. But if he does so in full force, beyond. Upperville and Piedmont were he gives up his communications to you occupied on the 4th, by the Union cavabsolutely, and you have nothing to do alry, cutting off the approaches from but to follow and ruin him ; if he does Ashby's and Manassas Gap. The last so with less than full force, fall upon and corps of the army was over the Potomac beat what is left behind all the easier. on the 5th, and on the 6th the advance Exclusive of the water-line, you are now was at Warrenton, General McClellan nearer Richmond than the enemy is by holding his headquarters at Rectortown, the route that you can, and he must, on the Manassas Gap Railway. The take. Why can you not reach there be- movement thus far, spite of the inclemfore him, unless you admit that he is ency of the weather, a severe winter more than your equal on a march ? His storm having set in, was attended withi route is the arc of a circle, while yours success, and hopes were entertained by is the chord. The roads are as good on the public of a decisive engagement, yours as on his." Either way, the Presi- when it was unexpectedly announced dent thought, the enemy should be met. that General McClellan had been super“In coming to us,” said he, “he tenders seded in command of the Army of the us an advantage which we should not Potomac by General Burnside. The waive. We should not so operate as to order to this effect, of the Secretary of merely drive him away. As we must War, dated Washington, November 5th, beat him somewhere, or fail finally, we was accompanied by the following from can do it, if at all, easier near to us General Halleck : "On receipt of the than far away. If we cannot beat the order of the President, sent herewith, enemy where he now is, we never can, you will immediately turn over your he again being within the intrenchments command to Major-General Burnside of Richmond."* The arguments of the and repair to Trenton, New Jersey, rePresident proved so much in accordance porting, on your arrival at that place, by with the necessities of the position, that telegraph, for further orders.” General McClellan, taking them into con- Apparently, in justification of this resideration, finally resolved to execute moval, a correspondence was published the suggested movement on the east of between Secretary Stanton and General the Blue Ridge. Accordingly, on the Halleck, dated' 27th and 28th of Oc26th of October the army commenced tober, in which mands of General crossing the Potomac by a pontoon McClellan upg War Department bridge at Berlin, General Pleasanton for supplies we
ed, and it was taking the lead with a body of cavalry, made to appear
is important requisitions madu
**ses and * Letter of President Lincoln to General McClellan, Washington, October 13, 1862.
clothing had been
ving the burden upon him of a reluctant or in- of Saturday, November 7th ; on the 11th efficient discharge of duty in delaying to he left Warrenton for the North, having set his army in motion after positiv 'aken leave of the army in a personal ders had been given him to that arewell, and w lls, ving address to Whatever the real merits of the ca: the officers ar 'lini “An order of have been, the explanation given" je President i sin Major-Genfriends of the Administration
.. al Burnside ... U i of this army. withdrawal of General McCle
parting fro}: ; ? ; express the that the times demanded an !!! core and gratimai
20. As an greater activity. In the words if noi.siny, vou hari
..::y, you hav o di!". .my care. publican journal of the day :- '72:23 you I had tj., qui doubt or defeat of General McClella i ! , Iness. Tiin: 5 : 12 fought that he lacked motive power. .. ise, sier my co.,} :: live in excessive caution which cramps all of his , vul nation's t': it u have better energies, and practically disables achieved, our mutual perils and fatigues, him for aggressive warfare ; the very first the graves of our comrades fallen in requisite is boldness. That over-cautious battle and by disease, the broken forms disposition was noticed long ago, but of those whom wounds and sickness have there was a fond hope that experience disabled—the strongest associations which would cure it. Experience, and that can exist among men—unite us still by too of the hardest sort, has not cured it. an indissoluble tie. We shall ever be It has been demonstrated to be an insep- comrades in supporting the constitution arable part of General McClellan's na- of our country, and the nationality of its ture. It is the presence of this fatal people.” A few days after, on the 12th, quality alone - the parent of indeci- Major-General Fitz John Porter, in a sion, procrastination and inaction—that general order, took leave of the army reconciles us, and will reconcile the corps which he had led, being summoned country, to the displacement of a com- to Washington to meet the charges premander otherwise so competent."* ferred against him by General Pope, and
The orders of removal was brought to was succeeded in his command by MajorGeneral McClellan by a special messen- General Joseph Hooker, who, though not ger from Washington, General Bucking- yet quite recovered from his wound reham, and reached him in his camp at ceived at Antietam, and unable to ride Rectortown at eleven o'clock on the night on horseback, brought to the field his ac.
* New York Daily Times, Nov. 11, 1862. customed energy of character.
END OF VOL. II.