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The following letter from General Barry shows thatt hirty-two (32) field guns, with men, horses, and equipments, were also left in Washington city when the army sailed. These were the batteries under instruction referred to above:
“HEADQUARTERS INSPECTOR OF ARTILLERY,
“ Washington, December 16, 1862. "GENERAL: It having been stated in various public prints, and in a speech of Senator Chandler, of Michigan, in his place in the United States Senate, quoting what he stated to be a portion of the testimony of Brigadier General Wadsworth, military governor of Washington, before the joint Senate and House committee on the conduct of the war, that Major General McClellan had left an insufficient force for the defence of Washington, and not a gun on wheels.
“I have to contradict this charge as follows:
“ From official reports made at the time to me, (the chief of artillery of the army of the Potomac,) and now in my possession, by the commanding officer of the light artillery troops left in camp in the city of Washington by your orders, it appears that the following named field batteries were left :
“Battery C, 1st New York artillery, Captain Barnes, 2 guns; battery K, 1st New York artillery, Captain Crounse, 6 guns; battery L, 2d New York artillery, Captain Robinson, 6 guns; 9th New York independent battery, Captain Monzordi, 6 guns; 16th New York independent battery, Captain Locke; battery A, 2d battalion New York artillery, Captain Hogan, 6 guns; battery B, 2d battalion New York artillery, Captain McMahon, 6 guns; total of batteries, 32
• With the exception of a few horses which could have been procured from the quartermaster's department in a few hours, the batteries were all fit for immediate service, excepting the 16th New York battery, which having been previously ordered, on General Wadsworth's application, to report to him for special service, was unequipped with either guns or horses. “I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
“W. F. BARRY, • “Brig. Gen., Inspector of Artillery United States Army. “Maj. Gen. McClELLAN,
* United States Army." It is true that Blenker's division, which is included in the force enumerated by me, was under orders to re-enforce General Frémont, but the following despatch from the Secretary of War, dated March 31, 1862, will show that I was authorized to detain him at Strasburg until matters assumed a definite form in that region, before proceeding to his ultimate destination; in other words, until Jackson was disposed of. And had he been detained there, instead of moving on to Harper's Ferry and Franklin, under other orders, it is probable that General Banks would have defeated Jackson, instead of being himself obliged subsequently to retreat to Williamsport.
“ WAR DEPAR'TMENT,
“Washington, D. C., March 31, 1862. “ The order in respect to Blenker is not designed to hinder or delay the movement of Richardson, or any other force. He can remain wherever you desire him as long as required for your movements, and in any position you desire. The order is simply to place him in position for re-enforcing Frémont, as soon as your dispositions will permit, and he may go to Harper's Ferry by such route and at such time as you shall direct. State your own wishes as to the movement, when and how it shall be made.
"EDWIN M. STANTON,
“ Secretary of War. “Maj. Gen. McClELLAN."
Without including General Blenker’s division, there were left 67,428 men and 85 pieces of light artillery, which, under existing circumstances, I deemed more than adequate to insure the perfect security of Washington against any force the enemy could bring against it, for the following reasons :
The light troops I had thrown forward under General Stoneman in pursuit of the rebel army, after the evacuation of Manassas and Centreville, had driven their rear guard across Cedar run, and subsequent expeditions from Sumner's corps had forced them beyond the Rappahannock. They had destroyed all the railroad bridges behind them, thereby indicating that they did not intend to return over that route. Indeed, if they had attempted such a movement, their progress must have been slow and difficult, as it would have involved the reconstruction of the bridges; and if my orders for keeping numerous cavalry patrols well out to the front, to give timely notice of any approach of the eneiny, had been strictly enforced (and I left seven regiments of cavalry for this express purpose) they could not by any possibility have reached Washington before there would have been ample time to concentrate the entire forces left for its defence, as well as those at Baltimore, at any necessary point.
It was clear to my mind, as I reiterated to the authorities, that the movement of the army of the Potomac would have the effect to draw off the hostile army from Manassas to the defence of their capital, and thus free Washington from menace. This opinion was confirmed the moment the movement commenced, or rather as soon as the enemy became aware of our intentions; for with the exception of Jackson's force of some 15,000, which his instructions show to have been intended to operate in such a way as to prevent McDowell's corps from being sent to re-enforce me, no rebel force of any magnitude made its appearance in front of Washington during the progress of our operations on the Peninsula; nor until the order was given for my return from Harrison's landing was Washington again threatened.
Surrounded, as Washington was, with numerous and strong fortifications, well garrisoned, it was manifest that the enemy could not afford to detach from his main army a force sufficient to assail them.
It is proper to remark, that just previous to my departure for Fort Monroe, I sent my chief of staff to General Hitchcock, who at that time held staff relations with his excellency the President and the Secretary of War, to submit to him a list of the troops I proposed to leave for the defence of Washington, and the positions in which I designed posting them. General Hitchcock, after glancing his eye over the list, observed that he was not the judge of what was required for defending the capital ; that General McClellan's position was such as to enable him to understand the subject much better than he did, and he presumed that if the force designated was, in his judgment, sufficient, nothing more would be required. He was then told by the chief of staff that I would be glad to have his opinion, as an old and experienced officer; to this he replied, that as I had had the entire control of the defences for a long time, I was the best judge of what was needed, and he declined to give any other expression of opinion at that time.
On the 2d of April, the day following my departure for Fort Monroe, Generals Hitchcock and Thomas were directed by the Secretary of War to examine and report whether the President's instructions to me, of March 8 and 13 had been complied with; on the same day their report was submitted, and their decision was
“ That the requirement of the President, that this city (Washington) shall be left entirely secure, has not been fully complied with.”
The President, in his letter to me on the 9th of April, says: “And now allow me to ask, do you really think I should permit the line from Richmond, via Manassas Junction, to this city, to be entirely open, except what resistance could be presented by less than twenty thousand unorganized troops.”
In the report of Generals Hitchcock and Thomas, alluded to, it is acknowledged that there was no danger of an attack from the direction of Manassas, in these words: “In regard to occupying Manassas Junction, as the enemy have destroyed the railroads leading to it, it may be fair to assume that they have no intention of returning for the reoccupation of their late position, and therefore no large force would be necessary to hold that position.”
That, as remarked before, was precisely the view I took of it, and this was enforced by the subsequent movements of the enemy.
In another paragraph of the report it is stated that fifty-five thousand men was the number considered adequate for the defence of the capital. That General McClellan, in his enumeration of the forces left, had included Banks's army corps, operating in the Shenandoah valley, but whether this corps should be regarded as available for the protection of Washington, they decline to express an opinion.
At the time this report was made, the only enemy on any approach to Washington was Jackson’s force, in front of Banks in the Shenandoah valley, with the Manassas Gap railroad leading from this valley to Washington ; and it will be admitted, I presume, that Banks, occupying the Shenandoah valley, was in the best position to defend not only that approach to Washington, but the roads to Harper's Ferry and above.
The number of troops left by me for the defence of Washington, as given in my letter to the Adjutant General, were taken from the latest official returns of that date, and these, of course, constituted the most trustworthy and au thentic source from which such information could be obtained.
Another statement made by General Hitchcock before the “Committee on the Conduct of the War," in reference to this same order, should be noticed. He was asked the following question: "Do you understand now that the movement made by General McClellan to Fort Monroe, and up the York river, was in compliance with the recommendation of the council of generals commanding corps, and held at Fairfax Court-house on the 13th of March last, or in violation of it?”
To which he replied as follows: “I have considered, and do now consider, that it was in violation of the recommendation of that council in two important particulars; one particular being that portion of this report which represents the council as agreeing to the expedition by way of the Peninsula, provided the rebel steamer Merrimac could first be neutralized. That important provis- ., ion General McClellan disregarded.”
The second particular alluded to by General Hitchcock was in reference to the troops left for the defence of Washington, which has been disposed of above.
In regard to the steamer Merrimac, I have also stated that, so far as our operations on York river were concerned, the power of this vessel was neutralized. I now proceed to give some of the evidence which influenced me in coming to that conclusion.
Previous to our departure for the Peninsula, Mr. Watson, Assistant Secretary of War, was sent by the President to Fort Monroe to consult with Flag-officer Goldsborough upon this subject. The result of that consultation is contained in the following extract from the evidence of Admiral Goldsborough before the (« Committee on the Conduct of the War,” viz: “I told Mr. Watson, Assistant Secretary of War, that the President might make his mind perfectly easy about the Merrimac going up York river; that she could never get there, for I had ample means to prevent that.”
Captain G. V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, testifies before the committee as follows:
“General McClellan expected the navy to neutralize the Merrimac, and I promised that it should be done."
General Keyes, commanding 4th army corps, testifies as follows before the committee:
“During the time that the subject of the change of base was discussed, I had refused to consent to the Peninsula line of operations until I had sent word to the Navy Department and asked two questions: First, whether the Merrimac was certainly neutralized, or not? Second, whether the navy was in a condition to co-operate efficiently with the army to break through between Yorktown and Gloucester point? To both of these, answers were returned in the affirmative; that is, the Merrimac was neutralized, and the navy was in a condition to cooperate efficiently to break through between Yorktown and Gloucester point."
Before starting for the Peninsula, I instructed Lieutenant Colonel B. S. Alexander, of the United States corps of engineers, to visit Manassas Junction and its vicinity for the purpose of determining upon tủe defensive works necessary to enable us to hold that place with a small force. The accompanying letters from Colonel Alexander will show what steps were taken by him to carry into effect this important order.
I regret to say that those who succeeded me in command of the region in front of Washington, whatever were the fears for its safety did not deem it necessary to carry out my plans and instructions to them. Had Manassas been placed in condition for a strong defence, and its communications secured as recommended by Colonel Alexander, the result of General Pope's campaign would probably have been different.
“Washington, D. C., April 2, 1862. “Sir: You will proceed to Manassas at as early a moment as practicable and mark on the ground the works for the defence of that place, on the positions which I indicated to you yesterday. You will find two carpenters, experienced in this kind of work, ready to accompany you, by calling on Mr. Dougherty, the master carpenter of the Treasury extension.
“ The general idea of the defence of this position is, to occupy the fringe of elevation which lies about half way hetween Manassas depot and the junction of the railroad, with a series of works open to the rear, so that they may be commanded by the work hereafter to be described.
“There will be at least four of these works, three of them being on the left of the railroad leading from Alexandria, at the positions occupied by the enemy's works. The other on the right of this road, on the position we examined yesterday. The works of the enemy to the north of this latter position, numbered 1 and 2 on Lieutenant Comstock's sketch, may also form a part of the front line of our defence; but the sides of these works looking towards Manassas station should be levelled, so that the interior of the works may be seen from the latter position.
“Embrasures should be arranged in all these works for field artillery. The approaches should be such that a battery can drive into the works. The number of embrasures in each battery will depend upon its size and the ground to be commanded. It is supposed there will be from four to eight embrasures in each battery.
“The other works of the enemy looking towards the east and south may be stengthened so as to afford sufficient defence in these directions. The work No. 3 in Lieutenant Comstock's sketch may be also strengthened and arranged for field artillery, when time will permit. This work is in a good position to cover a retreat, which would be made down the valley in which the railroad runs towards Bull run.
" At Manassas station there should be a fort constructed. The railroad will pass through this fort, and the depot, if there should be one built, should be placed in its rear. This latter work should be regarded as the key to the position. It should be as large as the nature of the ground will permit.
“By going down the slopes, which are not steep, it may be made large enough to accommodate 2,000 or 3,000 men. The top of the position need not be cut away; it will be better to throw up the earth into a large traverse, which may also be a bomb-proof. Its profile should be strong, and its ditches should be flanked. It should receive a heavy armament of 24 or 32 pounders, with some rifled (Parrott) 20 or 30 pounders. Its guns should command all the exterior works, so that these works could be of no use to the enemy, should he take them. In accommodating the fort to the ground this consideration should not be lost sight of.
“ After tracing these works on the ground, you will make a sketch embracing the whole of them, showing their relative positions and size. This sketch should embrace the junction of the railroads and the ground for some distance around the main work. It need not be made with extreme accuracy. The distances may be paced, or measured, with a tape line. The bearings may be taken by. compass.
“Having located the works and prepared your sketch, you will report to Captain Frederick E. Prime, of the corps of engineers, who will furnish you the means of construction.
"It is important that these works should be built with the least possible delay. You will, therefore, expedite matters as fast as possible. “Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
“B. S. ALEXANDER,
“ Lieutenant Colonel, Aide-de-Camp. “Captain Fred. R. MUNTHER, Present."
“WASHINGTON, April 6, 1862. “Sir: I enclose you herewith a copy of the instructions which I gave to Captain Munther, in reference to the defences of Manassas.
“ As there has been a new department created. (that of the Rappahannock,) it is possible that you and I, as well as General McClellan, are relieved from the further consideration of this subject at the present time.
"I will, however, state for your information, should the subject ever come before you again, that in my opinion the communication with Manassas by land should be secured.
“To effect this in the best manner, so far as my observations extended, I think the bridge over Bull run, near Union mills and just above the railroad bridge, should be rebuilt or thoroughly repaired, and that a small work, or two or three open batteries, should be erected on the adjacent heights to protect it as well as the railroad bridge.
“ The communication by land would then be through or near Centreville, over the road used by the enemy.
“I write this for fear something should detain me here; but I hope to leave here to join you to-morrow. My health is much improved. “ Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
“B. S. ALEXANDER,
“Lieutenant Colonel, Aide-de-Camp. “Brigadier General J. G. BARNARD,
“ Chief Engineer, Army of the Potomac.” I may be permitted also to mention that the plans (also unexecuted by my successor) indicated in my letter of instructions to General Banks, dated March 16, 1862, for intrenching Chester gap and the point where the Manassas railroad crosses the Shenandoah, were for the purpose of preventing even the attempt of such a raid as that of Jackson in the month of May following.