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Feb. 20, 1862. W. R.
CH. XVIII. in front of Nashville, and in what force? What
news of the rebels? If the force in West can take Mo Hala, Nashville, or even hold its own for the present, I 1862. w.'r. hope to have Richmond and Norfolk in from three
to four weeks." He sent a similar dispatch to Halleck, in which he pointed out Nashville as the pressing objective. “Buell has gone to Bowling Green. I will be in communication with him in a few minutes, and we will then arrange. The fall of Clarksville confirms my views. I think Cairo is not in danger, and that we must now direct our efforts on Nashville. The rebels hold firm at Manassas. In less than two weeks I shall move the Army of
the Potomac, and hope to be in Richmond soon McClellan after you are in Nashville. I think Columbus will
be abandoned within a week. We will have a despp. 640, 641. perate battle on this line."
While the three generals were discussing high strategy and grand campaigns by telegraph, and probably deliberating with more anxiety the possibilities of personal fame, the simple soldiering of Grant and Foote was solving some of the problems that confused scientific hypothesis. They quietly occupied Clarksville, which the enemy abandoned; and even while preparing to do so, Grant suggested
in his dispatch of February 19, “If it is the desire reb. . of the general commanding department, I can have Vol. Nashville on Saturday week.” Foote repeated the
suggestion in a dispatch of February 21, but the coveted permission did not come in time.
Meanwhile Buell, having gone to Bowling Green to push forward his railroad bridge, and hearing of the fall of Clarksville and the probable abandonment of Nashville, moved on by forced marches
Grant to Cullum,
with a single division, reaching the Cumberland Ch. XVIIL opposite the city on the 25th. The enemy had burned the bridge and he could not cross; but almost simultaneously he witnessed the arrival of steamboats bringing General Nelson's division, which immediately landed and occupied the place. This officer and his troops, after several varying orders, were finally sent up the Cumberland to Grant, and ordered forward by him to occupy Nashville and join Buell. It was a curious illustration of dramatic justice that the struggle of the generals over the capture of the place should end in the possession of Nashville by the troops of Buell under the orders of Grant, whose name had not once been mentioned by the contending commanders.
For a few days succeeding the occupation of Nashville news and rumors of what the rebels were doing were very conflicting, and none of the Union commanders suggested any definite campaign. On February 26 Halleck ordered preparations for a movement up either the Tennessee or the Cumberland, as events might require; but for two days he could not determine which. Finally, on the 1st of March, he sent distinct orders to Grant to command an expedition up the Tennessee River, to destroy the railroad and cut the telegraph at Eastport, Corinth, Jackson, and Humboldt. This was to be, not a permanent army advance, but a temporary raid by gunboats and troops on transports; all of which, after effecting what local destruction 1982.T.R. they could, were to return — the whole movement Vol. YIL, being merely auxiliary to the operations then in progress against New Madrid and Island No. 10,
CH. XVIII. designed to hasten the fall of Columbus. It turned
out that the preparations could not be made as quickly as Halleck had hoped; the delay arising, not from the fault or neglect of any officer, but mainly from the prevailing and constantly increasing floods in the Western waters, and especially from damage to telegraph lines that seriously hindered the prompt transmission of communications and orders. Out of this latter condition there also grew the episode of a serious misunderstanding between Halleck and Grant, which threatened to obscure the new and brilliant fame which the latter was earning.
Only a moment of vexation and ill-temper can account for the harsh accusation Halleck sent to Washington, that Grant had left his post without leave, that he had failed to make reports, that he and his army were demoralized by the Donelson victory. Reply came back that generals must ob
serve discipline as well as privates. “Do not hesia per vedtate to arrest him [Grant) at once,” added McClellan, 1862. T W.R. “if the good of the service requires it, and place
C. F. Smith in command.” Halleck immediately acted on the suggestion, ordered Grant to remain at Fort Henry, and gave the proposed Tennessee expedition to Smith. Grant obeyed, and at first explained, with an admirable control of temper, that he had not been in fault. Later on, however, feeling himself wronged, he several times asked to be relieved from duty. By this time Halleck was convinced that he had unjustly accused Grant and
as peremptorily declined to relieve him, and ordered to Grant him to resume his former general command. “In1861. W.R. stead of relieving you,” he added, “I wish you, as
soon as your new army is in the field, to assume
McClellan to Halleck,
the immediate command and lead it on to new vic- CH. XVIII. tories." In truth, while neither general had been unjust by intention, both had been blamable in conduct. Grant violated technical discipline in leaving his command without permission; Halleck, with undue haste, preferred an accusation which further information proved to be groundless. It is to the credit of both that they dismissed the incipient quarrel and with new zeal and generous confidence immediately joined in public service.
While the Grant-Halleck controversy and preparations for the Tennessee River expedition were in progress, the military situation was day by day slowly defining itself, though as yet without very specific action or conclusion. Buell, becoming satisfied that the enemy had no immediate intention to return and attack him at Nashville, inquired, on March 3, of Halleck: “What can I do to aid your operations against Columbus?” To this Halleck replied on the 4th with the information that Columbus had been evacuated, and asked, “Why not come to the Tennessee and operate with me to cut Johnston's line with Memphis, Randolph, and New Madrid ?" Without committing himself definitely, Buell answered on the 6th, merely proposing that they should meet at Louisville to discuss details. Halleck, however, unable to spare the time, held tenaciously to his proposition, informing Assistant Secretary Scott, at Cairo, of the situation in these words: “I telegraphed to General Buell to reënforce me as strongly as possible at or near Savannah [Tennessee). Their line of defense is now an oblique one, extending from Island No. 10 to Decatur or Chattanooga. Having destroyed the railroad and
Vol. X., Part II.,
CH. XVIII. bridges in his rear, Johnston cannot return to NashHalloskott, ville. We must again pierce his center at Savannah 1882. W.'k. or Florence. Buell should move immediately, and
not come in too late, as he did at Donelson.”
Feeling instinctively that he could get no effective voluntary help from Buell, Halleck turned again to McClellan, informing him of his intended expedition up the Tennessee River ; that he had directed a landing to be made at Savannah; that he had sent intrenching tools, and would push forward reënforcements as rapidly as possible. On the following day, however, reporting the strength of Grant's forces, he said: “You will perceive from this that without Buell's aid I am too weak for operations on the Tennessee.” The information received by him during the next twenty-four hours, that Curtis had won a splendid victory at the battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas, made a favorable change in his resources, and he explains his views and intentions to McClellan with more confidence:
Reserves intended to support General Curtis will now be drawn in as rapidly as possible and sent to the Tennessee. I propose going there in a few days. That is now the great strategic line of the Western campaign, and I am surprised that General Buell should hesitate to reënforce me. He was too late at Fort Donelson, as Hunter has been in Arkansas. I am obliged to make my calculations independent of both. Believe me, general, you make a serious mistake in having three independent commands in the West. There never will and never can be any coöperation at the critical moment; all military history proves it. You will regret your decision against me on
this point. Your friendship for individuals has influenced 1862. W... your judgment. Be it so. I shall soon fight a great battle
on the Tennessee unsupported, as it seems; but if successpp. 24, 26. ful, it will settle the campaign in the West.
Halleck to McClellan,
Vol. X., Part II.,