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plies, at the same time landing a strong corps as near Yorktown as»possible, in order to turn the rebel lines of defence south of Yorktown; then to reduce Yorktown and Gloucester by a siege, in all probability involving a delay of weeks, perhaps.
"2d. To make a combined naval and land attack upon Yorktown, the first object of the campaign. This leads to the most rapid and decisive results. To accomplish this, the navy should at once concentrate upon the York river all their available and most powerful batteries: its reduction should not in that case require many hours. A strong corps would be pushed up the York, under cover of the navy, directly upon West Point, immediately upon the fall of Yorktown, and we could at once establish our new base of operations at a distance of some twenty-five miles from Richmond, with every facility for developing and bringing into play the whole of our available force on either or both banks of the James.
"It is impossible to urge too strongly the absolute necessity of the full co-operation of the navy as a part of this programme. Without it the operations may be prolonged for many weeks, and we may be forced to carry in front several strong positions which by their aid could be turned without serious loss of either time or men.
"It is also of first importance to bear in mind the fact already alluded to, that the capture of Richmond necessarily involves the prompt fall of Norfolk, while an operation against Norfolk, if successful, as the beginning of the campaign, facilitates the reduction of Richmond merely by the demoralization of the rebel troops involved, and that after the fall of Norfolk we should be obliged to undertake the capture of Richmond by the same means which would have accomplished it in the beginning, having meanwhile afforded the rebels ample time to perfect their defensive arrangements, for they would well know, from the moment the army of the Potomac changed its base to Fort Monroe, that Richmond must be its ultimate object.
"It may be summed up in a few words, that, for the prompt success of this campaign, it is absolutely necessary that the navy should at once throw its whole available force, its most powerful vessels, against Yorktown. There is the most important point—there the knot to be cut An immediate decision upon the subjectmatter of this communication is highly desirable, and seems called for by the exigencies of the occasion.
"I am, sir, very respectfully,
"Your obedient servant, "george B. Mcclellan,
"Hon. E. M. Stanton,
"Secretary of War.''
In the mean time the troops destined to form the active army were collected in camps convenient to the points of embarcation, and. every preparation made to embark them as rapidly as possible when the transports were ready.
A few days before sailing for Fort Monroe, while still encamped near Alexandria, I met the President, by appointment, on a steamer. He there informed me that he had been strongly pressed to take General Blenker's division from
my command and give it to General Fremont. His excellency was good enough to suggest several reasons for not taking Blenker's division from me. I assented to the force of his suggestions, and was extremely gratified by his decision to allow the division to remain with the army of the Potomac. It was therefore with surprise that I received, on the 31st, the following note:
"Washington, March 31, 18G2. "my Dear Sir: This morning I felt constrained to order Blenker's division to Fremont, and I write this to assure you that I did so with great- pain, understanding that you would wish it otherwise. If you could know the full pressure of the case, I am confident that you would justify it even beyond a mere acknowledgment that the commander-in-chief may order what he pleases.
"Yours, very truly,
"A. Lincoln, "Major General Mcclellan."
To this I replied, in substance, that I regretted the order, and could ill afford to lose ten thousand troops which had been counted upon in forming my plan of campaign, but as there was no remedy, I would yield, and do the best I could without them. In a conversation with the President a few hours afterwards I repeated verbally the same thing, and expressed my regret that Blenker's division had been given toGeneral Fremont from any pressure other than the requirements of the national exigency. I was partially relieved, however, by the President's positive and emphatic assurance that I might be confident that no more troops beyond these ten thousand should in any event be taken from me, or in any way detached from my command.
At the time of the evacuation of Manassas by the enemy, Jackson was at Winchester, our forces occupying Charlestown, and Shields's reaching Bunker Hill on the 11th. On the morning of the 12th, a brigade of General Banks's troops, under General Hamilton, entered Winchester, the enemy having left at 5 o'clock the evening before, his rear guard of cavalry leaving an hour before our advance entered the place. The enemy having made his preparations for evacuation some days before, it was not possible to intercept his retreat. On the 13th the •mass of Banks's corps was concentrated in the immediate vicinity of Winchester, the enemy being in the.rear of Strasburg.
On the 19th General Shields occupied Strasburg, driving the enemy twenty miles south to Mount Jackson.
On the 20th the first division of Banks's corps commenced its movement towards Manassas, in compliance with my letter of instructions of the 16th.
Jackson probably received information of this movement, and supposed that no force of any consequence was left in the vicinity of" Winchester, and upon the falling back of Shields to that place for the purpose of enticing Jackson in pursuit, the latter promptly followed, whereupon ensued a skirmish on the 22d, in which General Shields wa> wounded, and an affair at Winchester on the 23d, resulting in the defeat of Jackson, who was pursued as rapidly as the exhaustion of our troops, and the difficulty of obtaining supplies, permitted. It is presumed that the full reports of the battle of Winchester were forwarded direct to the War Department by General Banks.
It being now clear that the enemy had no intention of returning by the Manassas route, the following letter of April 1st, was written to General Banks:
"headquarters Army Of The Potomac,
"General: The change in affairs in the valley of the Shenandoah, has rendered necessary a corresponding departure, temporarily at least, from the plan we some days since agreed upo'n.
"In my arrangements, I assume that you have with you a force amply sufficient to drive Jackson before you, provided he is not reinforced largely. I also assume, that you may find it impossible to detach anything towards Manassas for some days, probably not until the operations of the main army have drawn all the rebel force toward Richmond.
"You are aware that General Sumner has for some days been at Manassas Junction, with two divisions of infantry, six batteries and two regiments of cavalry, and that a reconnoissance to the Rappahannock, forced the enemy to destroy the railroad bridge at Rappahannock station, on the Orange find Alexandria railroad. Since that time our cavalry have found nothing on this aide of the Rappahannock in that direction, and it seems clear,that we have no reason to fear any return of the rebels in that quarter. Their movements near Fredericksburg, also indicate a final abandonment of that neighborhood. I doubt whether Johnson will now reinforce Jackson, with a view of offensive operations. The time is probably passed when he could have gained anything by doing so. I have ordered in oneof Sumner's divisions (that of Richardson, late Sumner's) to Alexandria for embarkation, Blenker's has been detached from the army of the Potomac, and ordered to report to General Fremont.
"Abercrombie is probably at Warrenton Junction to-day; Geary is at White Plains.
"Two regiments of cavalry have been ordered out, and are now on the way to relieve the two regiments of Sumner.
"Four thousand infantry, and one battery, leave Washington at once for Manassas. Some three thousand more will move in one or two days, and soon after some three thousand additional.
"I will order Blenker to march on Strasburg, and to report to you for temporary duty, so that, should you find a large force in your front, you can avail yourself of Ms aid. As soon as possible, please direct him on Winchester, thence to report to the Adjutant General of the army for orders; but keep him until you are sure what you have in front.
"In regard to your own movements, the most important thing at present is to throw Jackson well back, and then to assume such a position as to enable you to prevent his return. As soon as the railway communications are re-established, it will be, probably, important and
advisable to move on Staunton, but this would require secure communications, and a force of from twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand for active operations. It should also be nearly coincident with my own move on Richmond"; at all events, not so long before it as to enable the rebels to concentrate on you, and then return on me. I fear that you cannot be ready in time, although it may come in very well with a force less than that I have mentioned, after the main battle near Richmond. When General Sumner leaves Warrenton Junction, General Abercrombie will be placed in immediate command of Manassas and Warrenton Junction, under your general orders. Please inform me frequently, by telegraph and otherwise, as to the state of things in your front. ;' I am very truly yours,
"george B. Mcclellan,
u Major General Commanding, 11 Major General N. P. Banks, u Commanding Fifth Corps.
"P.S.—From what I have just learned, it would seem that the two regiments of cavalry intended for Warrenton Junction have gone to Harper's Ferry. Of the four additional regiments placed under your orders, two should, as promptly as possible, move by the shortest route on Warrenton Junction.
"I am, sir, very respectfully,
This letter needs no further explanation than to say that it was my intention, had the operations in that quarter remained under my charge, either to have resumed the defensive position marked out in the letter of March 16, or to have advanced General Banks upon Staunton,as might in the progress of events seem advisable.
It is to.be remembered that when I wrote the preceding and following letters of April 1,1 had no expectation of being relieved from the charge of the operations in the Shenandoah valley, and in front of Washington, the President's war order No. 3 giving no intimation of such an intention, and that, so far as reference was made to final operations after driving Jackson back and taking such a position as to prevent his return, no positive orders were given in the letter—the matter being left for future consideration, when the proper time arrived for a decision.
From the following letter to the Adjutant General, dated April 1, 1862, it will be seen that I left for the defence of the national capital and its approaches, when I sailed for the Peninsula, ^3,456 men, with 109 pieces of light artillery, including the 32 pieces in Washington alluded to, but not enumerated in my letter to the Adjutant General. It wilt also be seen that I recommended other available troops in New York (more than 4,000) to be at once ordered forward to reinforce them.
"Headquarters Army Op The Potomac,
"Steamer Commodore, April ]., 1862. "general: I have to request that you will lay the following ..communication before the Hon. Secretarv of War.
u The approximate numbers and positions of the troops left near and in rear of the Potomac are as follows:
*' General Dix has, after guarding the railroads nnder his charge, sufficient to give him 5,000 for the defence of Baltimore, and 1,988 available for the Eastern Shore, Annapolis, &c. Fort Delaware is very well garrisoned by about 400 men.
"The garrisons of the forts around Washington amount to 10,600 men; other disposable troops now with General Wadsworth about 11,400 men.
"The troops employed in guarding the various railways in Maryland amount to some 3,859 men. These it is designed to relieve, being old regiments, by dismounted cavalry, and to send forward to Manas3as.
"General Abercrombie occupies Warrenton with a force, which, including Colonel Geary, at White Plains, and the cavalry to be at his disposal, will amount to some 7,780 men, with 12 pieces of artillery.
"I have the honor to request that all the troops organized for service in Pennsylvania and New York, and in any of the eastern States, may be ordered to Washington. I learn from Governor Curtin that there are some 3,500 men now ready in Pennsylvania. This* force I should be glad to have sent to Manassas. Four thousand men from General Wadsworth I desire to be ordered to Manassas. These troops, with the railroad guards above alluded to, will make up a force under the command of General Abercrombie of something like 18,639 men.
"It is my design to push General Bleuker's division from Warrenton upon Strasburg. He should remain at Strasburg long enough to allow matters to assume a definite form in that region before proceeding to his ultimate destination.
"The troops in the valley of the Shenandoah will thus be, including Blenker's division, 10,028 strong, with 24 pieces of artillery; Banks's 5th corps, which embraces the command of General Shields, 19,087 strong, with 41 guns—some 3,652 disposable cavalry and the railroad guards, about 2,100 men—amount to about 35,467 men.
"■It is designed to relieve General Hooker by one regiment, say 850 men, being, with some 600 cavalry, 1,350 men on the lower Potomac.
€1T« recapitulate: At Warrenton there is
to be 7,7S0 men.
'• At Manassa3, sav 10,859"
44 In the valley of the Shenandoah 85,467"
"On the lower Potomac 1350"
"'in all 55,456"
€t There would thus he left for the garrisons and the front of Washington, under General Wadsworth, some 18,000 men, inclusive of the batteries under instruction. The troops organizing or ready for service in New York, I learn, will probably number more than four thousand. These should be assembled at Washington, subject to disposition where their services may be most required.
"I am, very respectfully,
"Your obedient servant,
"George B. Mcclellan, "Major General Commanding. "Bris- Gen. L. Thomas, A. G. U. S. A.
The following letter from General Barry shows that thirty-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 aud House committee on the conduct of the war, that Major General McClellarphad 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 officers 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 Morozowi, 6 guns; 16th New York independent battery, Captain Locke; battery A, 2d battery New York artillery, Captain Hogan, 6 guns; battery B, 2d battery New York artillery, Captain McMahon, 6 guns; total batteries?- 32 guns.
"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 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. Baert,
"Brig. Gen., Inspector of Artillery ^ U. & A. "Maj. Gen. Mcclelj Vn,
"United States Army."
It is true that Blenker's division, which is included in the forces enumerated by me, was under orders to reinforce General Fremont, but the following despatch from the Secretary of War, dated March 31st, 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, with other orders, it is probable that General Banks would have defeated Jackson, instead of being himself obliged subsequently to retreat to Williamsport.
"war Department, "Washington, D. G., March 31, 1862. "The order in respect to Blenker is not dosigned to hinder or delav the movement of Richardaon, 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 reinforcing Fremont, as soon as your impositions will permit, and he may go to Harper's Ferry by such route and at snch time as you shall direct. State your own wishes as to the movement, when and how it shall be made.
"Edward M. Stanton.
8< Aajor General Mcclellan."
Without including General Blenker'a 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 ligfrt 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 enemy nad 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 to the Peninsula, would have the effect to draw off the rebel 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 reinforce me, no rebel force of any magni-tude 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 chiefof-staff to Gen. 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 propose to leave for the de
fence of Washington, and the positions in which I designed posting them. Gen. Hitchcock, after glancing his eye over the list, observed that he. was not the judge of what was required for defending the capital, that Gen. McClelland 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 hig judgment sufficient, nothing more would be required. He was then told by the chief-of-siaff that I would be glad to have his opinion, as an old and experienced officer. To this he replied, that as I had had 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 8th and 13th had been complied with. On the same day their report was submitted, and their decision was—
"That the requirements of the President^ that this city (Washington) shall be entirely secure, has not been fully complied with."
The President, in his letter to me on the 19th 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 20,000 unorganized troops V
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 ManassaB, iu 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 inoccupation of their late position, and therefore no large force would be necessary to hold ftiat 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 declined 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 Washiugtoa, but the roads to Harper's Ferry ana above.
The number of troops left by me for the defence of Washington, as given in my letter to t]v2 Adjutant General, were taken from the latest officio! returns of that date, and these, of course, vicinity, for the purposa of determining upon the defensive works necessary to enable us to hold that place with a small force. The accompanying letters from Col. Alexander will show what steps were taken by him to carry into effect this most important order.
constitute the most trustworthy and authentic 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 Courthouse, 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 provision General McClellan disregarded."
I regret to say that those who succeeded me in command of the region in front of Washington, whatever were the fears for it's safety, did not deem it necessary to carry out my plans and instructions to him.
Had Manassas been placed in condition for a strong defence, and its communications secured as recommended by Col. Alexander, the result of Gen. Pope's campaign would probably have been different.
The second particular alluded to by General Hitchcock, was in reference t) 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 un York river, chat she could never get there, forS 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 Merimac, and I promised that it
shoud be done."
General Keyes, commanding 4th army corps, testifies as follows before the Committer:
"puring 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. 1st. Whether the Merrimac was certainly neutralized or not? 2d. 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 questions answers were returned in the affirmative, that is, the Merrimac was neutralized, and the navy was in a condition to co-operate efficiently to break through between Yorktown and Gloucester Point."
Before starting for the Peninsula, I instructed Lieut. Col. B. S. Alexander, of the TJ. S. corps of engineers to visit Manassas Junction and its
"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 elevations, which lies about half way between Manassas depot and the junction of the railroad, with a series of works, open to the rear, eo 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 Nos. 1 and 2 on Lieutenant Comstock's sketch, may also form a part of the front line of our defences; but the sides of these works, looking towards Manassas station should be leveled, so that the interior of the works may be seen from the latter position.
Embrasures should be arranged m 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 that 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 strengthened so as to afford sufficient defence in these directions. The work. No. 3, on 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 dopot, if one should be built, should be placed in its rear. This latter work should be regarded as the key of the position. It should be as large as the nature of the ground will permit.
"By going down the elopes, which are not steep, it may be made large enough to accom