« 上一頁繼續 »
the immediate command of the forces engaged. The first information I received that the battle was in progress was a despatch from him stating that Casey's division had given way. During the night of the 31st I received a despatch from him, dated 8.45 p.m., in which he says: “I am just in. When I got to the front the most of General Casey's division had dispersed. # # # The rout of General Casey's men had a most dispiriting effect on the troops as they came up. I saw no reason why we should have been driven back.” This official statement, together with other accounts received previous to my arrival upon the battle-field, to the effect that Casey's division had given way without making a proper resistance, caused me to state, in a telegram to the Secretary of War on the first, that this division “gave way unaccountably and discreditably.” Subsequent investigations, however, greatly modified the impressions first received, and I accordingly advised the Secretary of War of this in a despatch on the 5th of June. The official reports of Generals Keyes, Casey, and Naglee show that a very considerable portion of this division fought well, and that the brigade of General Naglee is entitled to credit for its gallantry. This division, among the regiments of which were eight of comparatively new troops, was attacked by superior numbers; yet, according to the reports alluded to, it stood the attack “for three hours before it was re-enforced.” A portion of the division was thrown into great confusion upon the first onslaught of the enemy; but the personal efforts of General Naglee, Colonel Bailey, and other officers, who boldly went to the front and encouraged the men by their presence and example, at this critical juncture, rallied a great part of the division, and thereby enabled it to act a prominent part in this severely contested battle. It therefore affords me great satisfaction to withdraw the expression contained in my first despatch, and I cordially give my indorsement to the conclusion of the division commander, “that those parts of his command which behaved discreditably were exceptional cases.” On the 31st, when the battle of Fair Oaks commenced, we had two of our bridges nearly completed; but the rising waters flooded the log-way approaches and made them almost impassable, so that it was only by the greatest efforts that General Sumner crossed his corps and participated in that hard-fought engagement. The bridges became totally useless after this corps had passed, and others on a more permanent plan were commenced. On my way to headquarters, after the battle of Fair Oaks, I attempted to cross the bridge where General Sumner had taken over his corps on the day previous. At the time General Sumner crossed this was the only available bridge above Bottom's bridge. I found the approach from the right bank for some 400 yards submerged to the depth of several feet, and on reaching the place where the bridge had been, I found a great part of it carried away, so that I could not get my horse over, and was obliged to send him to Bottom's bridge, six miles below, as the only practicable crossing. The approaches to New and Mechanicsville bridges were also overflowed, and both of them were enfiladed by the enemy's batteries established upon commanding heights on the opposite side. These batteries were supported by strong forces of the enemy, having numerous rifle-pits in their front, which would have made it necessary, even had the approaches been in the best possible condition, to have fought a sanguinary battle, with but little prospect of success, before a passage could have been secured. The only available means, therefore, of uniting our forces at Fair Oaks for an advance on Richmond soon after the battle, was to march the troops from Mechanicsville, and other points, on the left banks of the Chickahominy down to Bottom's bridge, and thence over the Williamsburg road to the position near Fair Oaks, a distance of about twenty-three (23) miles. In the condition of the roads at that time this march could not have been made with artillery in less than two days, by which time the enemy would have been secure within his intrenchments around Richmond. In short, the idea of uniting the two wings of the army in time to make a vigorous pursuit of the enemy, with the prospect of overtaking him before he reached Richmond, only five miles distant from the field of battle, is simply absurd, and was, I presume, never for a moment seriously entertained by any one connected with the army of the Potomac. An advance, involving the separation of the two wings by the impassable Chickahominy, would have exposed each to defeat in detail. Therefore I held the position already gained, and completed our crossings as rapidly as possible. In the mean time the troops at Fair Oaks were directed to strengthen their lo by a strong line of intrenchments, which protected them while the ridges were being built, gave security to the trains, liberated a larger fighting force, and offered a safer retreat in the event of disaster. On the 2d of June I sent the following despatch :
& 4 Headquarters ARMY OF THE Potomac,
“Our left is everywhere advanced considerably beyond the positions it occupied before the battle. I am in strong hopes that the Chickahominy will fall sufficiently to enable me to cross the right. We have had a terrible time with our communications—bridges and causeways, built with great care, having been washed away by the sudden freshets, leaving us almost cut off from communication. All that human labor can do is being dome to accomplish our purpose.
“Please regard the portion of this relating to condition of Chickahominy as confidential, as it would be serious if the enemy were aware of it. I do not yet know our loss; it has been very heavy on both sides, as the fighting was desperate. Our victory complete. I expect still more fighting before we reach Richmond.
“G. B. McCLELLAN,
- “Major General. “Hon. E. M. STANToN,
“Secretary of War.”
“WASHINGTON, June 2, 1862. “Your telegram has been received, and we are greatly rejoiced at your success—not only in itself, but because of the dauntless spirit and courage it displays in your troops. You have received, of course, the order made yesterday in respect to Fortress Monroe. The object was to place at your command the disposable force of that department. The indications are that Frémont or McDowell will fight Jackson to-day, and as soon as he is disposed of another large body of troops will be at your service. “The intelligence from Halleck shows that the rebels are fleeing, and pursued in force, from Corinth. All interest now centres in your operations, and full confidence is entertained of your brilliant and glorious success. “EDWIN M. STANTON, - “Secretary of War. “Major General McClell AN.” On the 3d I received the following from the President:
“WASHINGTON, June 3, 1862. “With these continuous rains, I am very anxious about the Chickahominy— so elose in your rear, and crossing your line of communication. Please look to it.
“ABRAHAM LINCOLIN, President. “Major General McCLELLAN.”
To which I replied as follows:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
“Your despatch of 5 p.m. just received. As the Chickahominy has been almost the only obstacle in my way for several days, your excellency may rest assured that it has not been overlooked. Every effort has been made, and will continue to be, to perfect the communications across it. Nothing of importance,
except that it is again raining.
- “Major General, Commanding. “A. LINcolN, President, Washington.”
My views of the condition of our army on the 4th are explained in the following despatch to the President:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY of THE POTOMAC,
“Terrible rain, storm during the night and morning—not yet cleared off. Chickahominy flooded, bridges in bad condition. Are still hard at work at them. I have taken every possible step to insure the security of the corps on the right bank, but I cannot re-enforce them here until my bridges are all safe, as my force is too small to insure my right and rear, should the enemy attack in that direction, as they may probably attempt. I have to be very cautious now. Our loss in the late battle will probably exceed (5,000) five thousand. I have not yet full returns. On account of the effect it might have on our own men and the enemy, I request that you will regard this information as confidential for a few days. I am satisfied that the loss of the enemy was very considerably greater; they were terribly punished. I mention these facts now merely to show you that the army of the Potomac has had serious work, and that no child’s play is before it.
“You must make your calculations on the supposition that I have been correct from the beginning in asserting that the serious opposition was to be made here.
“G. B. McCLELLAN, - “Major General, Commanding. “A. LINCOLN, President.”
And in the following to the Secretary of War, on the same day:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE PotoMAC,
“Please inform me at once what re-enforcements, if any, I can count upon having at Fortress Monroe or White House within the next three days, and when each regiment may be expected to arrive. It is of the utmost importance that I should know this immediately. The losses in the battle of the 31st and 1st will amount to (7,000) seven thousand. Regard this as confidential for the
p “If I can have (5) five new regiments for Fort Monroe and its dependencies, I can draw (3) three more old regiments from there safely. I can well dispose of four more raw regiments on my communications. I can well dispose of from (15) fifteen to (20) twenty well drilled regiments among the old brigades in bringing them up to their original effective strength. Recruits are especially necessary for the regular and volunteer batteries of artillery, as well as for the regular and volunteer regiments of infantry. After the losses in our last battle.
I trust that I will no longer be regarded as an alarmist. I believe we have at
Also in my despatch to the Secretary of War, on the 5th :
“Headquarters ARMY of the PotoMAC,
“Rained most of the night; has now ceased, but is not clear. The river still very high and troublesome. Enemy opened with several batteries on our bridges near here this morning; our batteries seem to have pretty much silenced them, though some firing still kept up. The rain forces us to remain in statu quo. With great difficulty a division of infantry has been crossed this morning to support the troops on the other side, should the enemy renew attack. I felt obliged to do this, although it leaves us rather weak here. “G. B. McCLELLAN, “Major. General, Commanding. “Hon. E. M. STANTON, “Secretary of War.”
On the 5th the Secretary telegraphed me as follows:
“WASHINGTON, June 5, 1862–8.30 p.m.
“I will send you five (5) new regiments as fast as transportation can take them; the first to start to-morrow from Baltimore. I intend sending you apart of McDowell's force as soon as it can return from its trip to Front Royal, probably as many as you want. The order to ship the new regiments to Fort Monroe has already been given. I suppose that they may be sent directly to the fort. Please advise me if this be as you desire.
“EDWIN M. STANTON, “Secretary of War. “Major General McClella N.”
On the 7th of June I telegraphed as follows:
“HEADQUARTERs ARMY OF THE POToMAC,
“In reply to your despatch of 2 p.m. to day, I have the honor to state that the Chickahominy river has risen so as to flood the entire bottoms to the depth of three and four feet. I am pushing forward the bridges in spite of this, and the men are working night and day, up to their waists in water, to complete them. - - “The whole face of the country is a perfect bog, entirely impassable for artillery, or even cavalry, except directly in the narrow roads, which renders any general movement, either of this or the rebel army, entirely out of the question until we have more favorable weather. “I am glad to learn that you are pressing forward re-enforcements so vigorously.
o shall be in perfect readiness to move forward and take Richmond the moment McCall reaches here and the ground will admit the passage of artillery. I have advanced my pickets about a mile to-day, driving off the rebel pickets and securing a very advantageous position.
“The rebels have several batteries established, cominanding the debouches from two of our bridges, and fire upon our working parties continually, but as yet they have killed but very few of our men.
, “G. B. McCLELLAN, - “Major General, Commanding.
“Hon. E. M. STANTON,
“Secretary of War.” f
As I did not think it probable that any re-enforcements would be sent me in time for the advance on Richmond, I stated in the foregoing despatch that I should be ready to move when General McCall's division joined me; but I did not intend to be understood by this that no more re-enforcements were wanted, as will be seen from the following dispatch.
, “June 10, 1862–3.30 p.m.
“I have again information that Beauregard has arrived, and that some of his troops are to follow him. No great reliance—perhaps nome whatever—can be attached to this; but it is possible, and ought to be their policy.
“I am completely checked by the weather. The roads and fields are liter. ally impassable for artillery, almost so for infantry. The Chickahominy is in a dreadful state; we have another rain-storm on our hands.
“I shall attack as soon as the weather and ground will permit; but there will be a delay, the extent of which no one can foresee, for the season is altogether abnormal.
“in view of these circumstances, I present for your consideration the propriety of detaching largely from Halleck's army to strengthen this; for it would seem that Halleck has now no large organized force in front of him, while we have. If this cannot be done, or even in connexion with it, allow me to suggest the movement of a heavy column from Dalton upon Atlanta. If but the one can be done, it would better conform to military principles to strengthen this army. And even although the re-enforcements might not arrive in season to take part in the attack upon Richmond, the moral effect would be great, and they would furnish valuable assistance in ulterior movements.
“I wish to be distinctly understood that, whenever the weather permits, I will attack with whatever force I may have, although a larger force would enable me to gain much more decisive results.
“I would be glad to have McCall's infantry sent forward by water at once, without waiting for his artillery and cavalry.
“If General Prim returns via Washington, please converse with him as to the condition of affairs here.
“GEO. B. McCLELLAN, “Major General, Commanding. “Hon. E. M. STANTON, “Secretary of War.”
Our work upon the bridges continued to be pushed forward vigorously until the 20th, during which time it rained almost every day, and the exposure of the men caused much sickness.
On the 11th the following was received from the Secretary of War:
“WASHINGTON, June 11, 1862. “Your despatch of three thirty, (3.30,) yesterday, has been received. I am fully impressed with the difficulties mentioned, and which no at or skill can avoid, but only endure, and am striving to the uttermost to render you every aid in the power of the government. Your suggestions will be immediately