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Halleck, at St. Louis, was agitated by more CH. XVIII. rapid emotions. Watching the distant and dangerous campaign under Curtis in Southwestern Missouri, beginning another of mingled hazard and brilliant promise under Pope on the Mississippi, beset by perplexities of local administration, flushed to fever heat by the unexpected success of Grant, his mind ran forward eagerly to new prospects. “I am not satisfied with present success," he telegraphed Sherman. “We must now prepare Sherman, for a still more important movement. You will not 1862. W.R. be forgotten in this.” But this preparation seems, in his mind, to have involved something more than orders from himself.
Before he received the news of the surrender of Fort Donelson he became seriously alarmed lest the rebels, using their river transportation, might rapidly concentrate, attack Grant in the rear, crush him before succor could reach him, and returning quickly, be as ready as before to confront and oppose Buell. Even after the surrender Halleck manifests a continuing fear that some indefinite concentration will take place, and a quick reprisal be executed by a formidable expedition against Paducah or Cairo. His overstrained appeals to Buell for help do not seem justified in the full light of history. An undertone of suggestion and demand indicates that this urgency, while based on his patriotic eagerness for success, was not wholly free from personal ambition.
We have seen how, when he heard of Grant's victory, he generously asked that Buell, Grant, and Pope be made major-generals of volunteers, and with equal generosity to himself broadly added,
CH. XVIIL “and give me command in the West.” He could
not agree with Buell that Nashville was the most vital point of the rebellion in the West, and that heavy rebel reënforcements would be thrown into it from all quarters east and south. Halleck develops his idea with great earnestness in replying to that suggestion from Buell. He says:
To remove all questions as to rank, I have asked the President to make you a major-general. Come down to the Cumberland and take command. The battle of the West is to be fought in that vicinity. You should be in it as the ranking general in immediate command. Don't hesitate. Come to Clarksville as rapidly as possible. Say that you will come, and I will have everything there for you. Beauregard threatens to attack either Cairo or Paducah; I must be ready for him. Don't stop any troops ordered down the Ohio. We want them all. You shall have them back in a few days. Assistant Secretary of War Scott left here this afternoon to confer with you. He knows my plans and necessities. I am terribly hard pushed. Help me, and I will help you. Hunter has acted nobly, generously, bravely. Without his aid I should have failed before Fort Donelson. Honor to him. We came within an ace of being defeated. If the fragments which I sent down had not reached there on Saturday we should have gone in. A retreat at one time seemed almost inevitable. All right now. Help me to carry it out. Talk freely with Scott. It is evident to me that you and McClellan did not at last accounts appreciate the strait I have been in. I am certain you will when you understand it all. Help me, I beg of you. Throw all your
troops in the direction of the Cumberland. Don't stop 1862. W.'R. any one ordered here. You will not regret it. There will Vol. VII:, be no battle at Nashville.
In answer to an inquiry from Assistant Secretary Scott, he explained further: “I mean that Buell should move on Clarksville with his present column; there unite his Kentucky army and move
pp. 632, 633.
up the Cumberland, while I act on the Tennessee. CH. XVIII. We should then be able to coöperate.” This pro- Thomas A. posal was entirely judicious, but in Halleck's Feb. 20, mind it was subordinated to another considera- Vol. VII., tion, namely, that he should exercise superior command in the West. Again he telegraphed to McClellan (February 19), “ Give it (the Western division] to me, and I will split secession in twain in one month.” The same confidence is also expressed to Buell, in a simultaneous dispatch to Assistant Secretary Scott, who was with Buell. “If General Buell will come down and help me with all possible haste we can end the war in the West in less than a month.” A day later Halleck becomes almost peremptory in a dispatch to McClellan: “I must have command of the armies in the West. Hesitation and delay are losing us the golden opportunity. Lay this before the President vol. Vir., and Secretary of War. May I assume the command? Answer quickly.”
To this direct interrogatory McClellan replied in the negative. The request was hardly couched in proper terms to find ready acquiescence from a military superior. In this case, however, it was also calculated to rouse a twofold instinct of jealousy. Buell was a warm personal friend of McClellan, and the latter could not be expected to diminish the opportunities or endanger the chances of his favorite. But more important yet was the question how this sudden success in Halleck's department, and the extension of command and power so boldly demanded, might affect McClellan's own standing and authority. He was yet general-in-chief, but the Administration was dissatisfied at his inaction,
pp. 636, 637,
to Halleck, Vol. VII.,
CH. XVIII. and the President had indicated, in the general
war order requiring all the armies of the United States to move on the 22d of February, that his patience had a limit. McClellan did not believe that the army under his own immediate care and command would be ready to fulfill the President's order. Should he permit a rival to arise in the West and grasp a great victory before he could move ?
An hour after midnight McClellan answered Halleck as follows: “Buell at Bowling Green knows more of the state of affairs than you at St. Louis. Until I hear from him I cannot see necessity of giving you entire command. I expect to
hear from Buell in a few minutes. I do not yet see MoClellan that Buell cannot control his own line. I shall not 1862.W.'r. lay your request before the Secretary until I hear
definitely from Buell.” Halleck did not feel wholly baffled by the unfavorable response. That day he received a dispatch from Stanton, who said: “Your plan of organization has been transmitted to me by Mr. Scott and strikes me very favorably,
but on account of the domestic affliction of the Stanton to President I have not yet been able to submit it to w.'R. him. The brilliant result of the energetic action in
the West fills the nation with joy."
Encouraged by this friendly tone from the Secretary of War, Halleck ventured a final appeal: “One whole week has been lost already by hesitation and delay. There was, and I think there still is, a golden opportunity to strike a fatal blow, but I can't do it unless I can control Buell's army. I am perfectly willing to act as General McClellan dictates or to take any amount of responsibility.
Feb. 21, 1862. Vol. VII.,
To succeed we must be prompt. I have explained CA. XVIII. everything to General McClellan and Assistant Secretary Scott. There is not a moment to be lost. Hallock to Give me authority, and I will be responsible for 1862. w.R. results.” Doubtless Halleck felt that the Fates were against him, for the reply chilled his lingering hopes: “Your telegram of yesterday, together with Mr. Scott's reports, have this morning been submitted to the President, who, after full consideration of the subject, does not think any change in the organization of the army or the military departments at present advisable. He desires and expects you and General Buell to coöperate fully totaatiook, and zealously with each other, and would be glad 1862. W. 'R. to know whether there has been any failure of coöperation in any particular."
Mr. Lincoln had been watching by the bedside of his dying son, and in his overwhelming grief probably felt disinclined to touch this new vexation of military selfishness - a class of questions from which he always shrank with the utmost distaste; besides, we shall see in due time how the President's momentary decision turned upon much more comprehensive changes already in contemplation. Before McClellan's refusal to enlarge Halleck's command he had indicated that his judgment and feelings were with Buell. Thus he telegraphed the latter on February 20: “Halleck says Columbus reënforced from New Orleans, and steam up on their boats ready for move - probably on Cairo. Wishes to withdraw some troops from Donelson. I tell him improbable that rebels [are] reënforced from New Orleans or attack Cairo. Think [they] will abandon Columbus. . . How soon can you be