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CHAP. X. Even while our vast army was passing down the
Potomac he could not make out where it was going. * Narrative So late as the early days of April, Jefferson Davis of Military
was in doubt as to McClellan's destination, and tions,"
Johnston only heard of the advance upon Yorktown about the 5th of that month.
By the very test, therefore, to which General McClellan appeals in the paragraph quoted above, his conduct during the autumn and winter stands finally condemned. By their contemporaneous letters and orders, by their military movements in an important crisis, by their well-considered historical narratives, the Confederate Government and generals have established these facts beyond all possibility of future refutation: that the plan for a direct attack, suggested by Lincoln and rejected by McClellan, was a sound and practicable one; it was the plan they expected and dreaded to see adopted, because it was the one easiest to accomplish and hardest to resist. When they fancied that they saw the Army of the Potomac preparing to move, it was this plan alone of which they thought; and they immediately gave up their position, as they had been for weeks preparing to do, at the first intimation of a forward movement.
The long delay of five months, during three of which the roads were in unusually fine condition,' during all
1 Pollard's History, Vol. I., p. From the admirable monograph 184, says: “A long, lingering of Major-General A. S. Webb, Indian summer, with roads more Chief-of-Staff of the Army of the hard and skies more beautiful Potomac, entitled “The Peninthan Virginia had seen for many sula,” we quote a sentence on this a year, invited the enemy to ad- subject: “During all the time vance.” Johnston, “Narrative," Johnston's army lay at Centrepage 84, says that the roads were ville insolently menacing Washpracticable until the last of De- ington . . . it never presented an cember.
effective strength of over fifty
THE DEFENSES OF WASHINGTON DURING THE ANTIETAM CAMPAIGN,
SEPTEMBER 1-20, 1862.
Extensive additions to the defenses of the west bank of the Potomac were made subsequently. Forts Alexander, Franklin, and Ripley were afterward united and called redoubts Davis, Kirby, and Cross, receiving later the name of Fort Sumner. Forts De Kalb, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Blenker were afterward changed respectively to Strong, Stevens, Reno, and Reynolds. See also page 168, Vol. IX.
of which the Union forces were as three to one of CHAP. X. the enemy, remains absolutely without excuse. It can only be explained by that idiosyncrasy of General McClellan which led him always to double or treble the number of an enemy and the obstacles in his immediate vicinity.
It is little blame to Confederate generals that they could not divine what General McClellan was doing with the grand army of the Union during the week that followed the evacuation of Manassas. No soldier could have been expected to guess the meaning of that promenade of a vast army to Centreville and Manassas, and back to Alexandria. In spite of the “impassable roads," they made the journey with ease and celerity. The question why the whole army was taken has never been satisfactorily answered. General McClellan's explanation afterwards was that he wanted the troops to have a little experience of marching and to "get rid of their impedimenta." He claims in his report to have found on this excursion a full justification of his extravagant estimate of the enemy's force, and speaks with indignation of the calumnious stories of “quaker-guns” which were rife in the press at the time. Every one now knows how fatally false the estimate was; and as to the “ quaker-guns," this is what General Johnston says about them: “As we had not artillery enough for their works and for the army fighting elsewhere at the same time, rough wooden imitations of guns were made, and kept near the embrasures, in readiness for
thousand men. With more than cious weeks, under the delusion twice that number McClellan re- that he was confronted by a force mained inactive for many pre- nearly equal to his own.”
VOL. V, - 12
of Military Operations,"
CHAP. X. exhibition in them. To conceal the absence of « Narrative carriages, the embrasures were covered with sheds
made of bushes. These were the quaker-guns afterwards noticed in Northern papers."
Without further discussing where the fault lay, the fact is beyond dispute that when the evacuation of Manassas was known throughout the country, the military reputation of General McClellan received serious damage. No explanation made at the time, and, we may add, none made since then, could account satisfactorily for such a mistake as to the condition of the enemy, such utter ignorance as to his movements. The first result of it was the removal of General McClellan from the command of the armies of the United States. This resolution was taken by the President himself, on the 11th of March. On that day he prepared the order known as “President's War Order, No. 3," and in the evening called together Mr. Seward, Mr. Chase, and Mr. Stanton, and read it to them. It was in these words:
PRESIDENT'S WAR ORDER, No. 3.
WASHINGTON, March 11, 1862. Major-General McClellan having personally taken the field at the head of the Army of the Potomac, until otherwise ordered he is relieved from the command of the other military departments, he retaining command of the Department of the Potomac.
Ordered further, That the departments now under the respective commands of Generals Halleck and Hunter, together with so much of that under General Buell as lies west of a north and south line indefinitely drawn through Knoxville, Tenn., be consolidated and designated the Department of the Mississippi, and that, until other