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ting there by mistake. There is nothing of ours on the right of Centreville but Sumner's corps. There was much artillery firing during the day. A rebel major told the sergeant that the rebels had driven in our entire left to-day. He says the road is filled with wagons and stragglers coming towards Alexandria. It is clear, from the sergeant's account, that we were badly beaten yesterday, and that Pope's right is entirely exposed.
441 recommend that no more of Couch's division be sent to the front, that Burnside be brought here as soon as practicable, and that everything available this side of Fairfax be drawn in at once, including the mass of the troops on the railroad. I apprehend that the enemy will, or have by this time, occupied Fairfax Court House, and cut off Pope entirely, unless he falls back to-night via Sangster's and Fairfax station. I think these orders should be sent at once. I have no confidence in the dispositions made, as I gather them. To speak frankly, and the occasion requires it, there appears to be a total absence of brains, and I fear the total destruction of the army. I have some cavalry here that can carry out any orders you may have to send. The occasion is grave, and demands grave measures. The question is the salvation of the country. I learn that our loss yesterday amounted to fifteen thousand. We connot afford such losses without an object. It is my deliberate opinion that the interests of the nation demand that Pope should fall back to-night if possible, and not one moment is to be lost I will use all the cavalry I have to watch our right. Please answer at once. I feel confident you can rely upon the information I give you. I shall be up all night, and ready to obey any orders you give me.
"G. B. Mcclellan,
To which this reply was received:
"Washington, Sept 1, 1862—1.30 p. m.
u Burnside was ordered up very early yesterday morning. Retain remainder of Couch's forces, and make arrangements to stop all retreating troops in line of works, or where you can best establish an outer line of.defence. My news from Pope was up to 4 P. M., he was then all right. I must wait for more definite information before I can order a retreat, as the falling back on the line of works must necessarily be directed, in case of a serious disaster.
44 Give me all additional news that is reliable. I shall be up all night, and ready to act as circumstances may require. I am fully aware of the gravity of the crisis, and have been for weeks.
"H. W. Halleck,
4i Major General Mcclellan,
It will be seen from what has preceded that I lost no time that could be avoided in moving the army of the Potomac from the Peninsula to the support of the army of Virginia; that I spared no effort to hasten the embarkation of the troops at Fort Monroe, Newport News and Yorktown^ remaining at Fort Monroe myself until the mass of the army bad sailed; and that after my arrival at Alexandria I left nothing in my power to forward supplies and reinforcements to General Pope. I sent with the troops that moved all the cavalry that I could get hold of, even my personal escort was sent out upon the line of the railway as a guard, with the provost and camp guard at headquarters, retaining less than one hundred men, many of whom were orderlies, invalids, members of bands, etc.; all the headquarter teams that arrived were sent out with supplies and ammunition, none being retained even to move the headquarters camp. The squadroD that habitually served as my personal escort was left at Falmouth with General Burnside, as he was deficient in cavalry.
On the 1st of September, I went into Washington, where I had an interview with the general-in-chief, who instructed me verbally, to take command of its defences, expressly limiting my jurisdiction to the works and their garrisons, anti prohibiting me from exercising any control over the troops actively engaged in front under General Pope. During this interview, I suggested to the general-in-chief the necessity of his going in person, or sending one of his personal staff, to the army under General Pope, for the purpose of ascertaining the exact condition of affairs. He sent Colonel Kelton, his assistant adjutant general.
During the afternoon of the same day, I received a message from the general-in-chief, to the effect that he desired me to go at once to his house to see the President. The President informed me that he had reason to believe that the army of the Potomac was not cheerfully cooperating with, and supporting General Pope, that he had u always been a friend of mine," and now asked me, as a special favor, to use my influence in correcting this state of things. I replied, substantially, that I was confident that he was misinformed, that I was sure, whatever sentiment the army of the Potomac might entertain towards General Pope, that they would obey his orders, support him to the fullest extent, and do their whole duty. The President, who was much nuoved, again asked me to telegraph to "Fitz John Porter, or some other of my friends," and try and do away with any feeling that might exist, adding that I could rectify the evil, and that no one else could. I thereupon told him that I would cheerfully telegraph to General Porter, or do anything else in my power, to gratify his wishes and relieve his anxiety, upon which he thanked me very warmly, assured me that he could never forget my action in the matter, etc., and left.
I then wrote the following telegram to General Porter, which was sent to him by the general-in-ehief:
"washington, Sept 1, 1862.
** I ask you for my sake, and that of the country, and the old army of the Potomac, that you and all my friends will lend the fullest and most cordial co-operation to General Pope, in all the operations now going on. The destinies of our country, the honor of our army are at stake, and all depends upon the cheerful co-operation of all in the field. This week is the crisis of our fate. Say the same thing to my friends in the army of the Potomac, and that the last request I have to make of them is, that for their country's sake they will extend to General Pope the same support they ever have to me.
441 am in charge of the defences of WashingIll
ton, and am doing all I can to render your retreat safe, should that become necessary.
44 Geo. 13. Mcclellan 44 Major General Porter."
To which he sent the following reply:
"Fairfax Court House,
"Sept 2, 1862—10 a. m. 44 You may rest assured that all your friends, as well as every lover of his country, will ever give, as they have given, to General Pope their cordial co-operation and constant support, in the execution of all orders and plans. Our killed, wounded and enfeebled troops, attest our devoted duty.
44 F. J. Porter, u Major General Commanding. "General Geo. B. Mcclellan, Washington."
Neither at the time I wrote the telegram, nor at any other time, did I think for one moment, that General Porter had been, or would be in any manner derelict in the peformance of his duty to the nation and its cause. Such an impression never entered my mind. The despatch in question was written purely at the request of the President
On the morning of the 2d, the President and General Halleck came to my house, when the President informed me that Colonel Kelton had returned from the front; that our affairs were in bad condition; that the army was in full retreat upon the defences of Washington; the roads filled with stragglers, &c. He instructed me to take steps at once to stop and collect the stragglers, to place the works in a proper state of defence, and to go out to meet, and take command of the army when it approached the vicinity of the works; then to put the troops in the best position for defence; committing everything to my hands.
44 War Department, Adj't General's Office,
"Washington, Sept 2, 1862. i4 Major General McClellan will have command of the fortifications of Washington, and of all troops for the defence of the capital.
44 By order of Major General Halleck. 44 E. D. Townsend,
■ ■ "Assistant Adjviant General."
I immediately took steps to carry out these Orders, and J sent an aide to General Pope with the following letter:
44 Headquarters, Washington, Sept 2,1862. 44 General: General Halleck instructed me to repeat to you the order he sent th * morning to withdraw your army to Washington without
unnecessary delay. He feared that his messenger might miss you, and desired to take ihis double precaution.
4tln order to bring troops upon ground with which they are already familiar, it would be best to move Porter's corps upon Upton's hill, thit it may occupy Hall's hill, etc.; McDowell's to Upton's hill; Franklin's to the works in front of Alexandria; Lleintzelman's to the same vicinity; Couch to Fort Corcoran, or, if p acticablc, t the (Jhain bridge; Sumner either to Fort Albany or to Alexandria, as may be most convenient.
"In haste, General,
"Very truly yours,
"geo. B. Mcclellax,
"Major General U. 8. A. "Major General John Pope,
u Conniianding Army of Virginia."
In the afternoon I crossed the Potomac and rode to the front, and at Upton's hill met the advance of McDowell's corps, and with it Getierals Pope and McDowell. After getting what information I could from them, 1 sent the few aides at my disposal to the left, to give instructions to the troops approaching in the direction of Alexandria; and hearing artillery firing m the direction of the Vienna and Langley road, by which the corps of Sumner, Porter and Sigel were returning, and learning from General Pope that Sumner was probably engaged, I went with a single aide and three orderlies by the shortest line to meet that column. I reached the c« lumn after dark, and proceeded as far as Lewinsville, where I became satisfied that the rear corps (Sumner's) would be able to reach its intended position without any serious molestation. I therefore indicated to Generals P rter and Sigel the positions they were to occupy, sent instructions to General Sumner, and at a late hour of the night returned to Washington.
Next day I rode to the fiont of Alexandria, and was engaged in rectifying the positions of the troops, and giving orders necessary to secure the issuing of the necessary supplies, etc. I felt sure on this day that we could repulse any attack made by the enemy on the south side of the Potomac.
On the third the enemy had disappeared from the front of Washington, and the. information which I received induced me to believe that he intended to cross the upper Potomac into Maryland. Thig materially changed the aspect of affairs and enlarged the sphere of operations, for, in case of a crossing in force, an active campaign would be necessary to cover Baltimore, prevent the invasion of Pennsylvania, and clear Maryland.
I therefore on the 3d ordered the 2d and 12th corps to Tenallytown, and the 9th corps to a point on the 7th street road near Washington. *nd !-ent such cavalry as was available to the fords Dear Poolsvilie, to watch and impede the enemy in any attempt to cross in that vicinity.
On the 5th the 2d and 12th corps were moved to Rockville, and Couch's division (the only one of the 4th corps that had been brought from the Peninsula) to Offut's cross roads.
On the 6th the 1st and 9th corps were ordered to Leesboro, the 6th corps and Sykes's division of the 5th corps to Tenallytown.
On the 7th the 6th corps was- advanced to Rockville. to which place my headquarters were moved on the i-ame day.
All ihe necessary arrangements for the defence of the ciiy, under the new condition of things, had been made, and General Banks was left in command, having received his instructions from me.
1 left Washington on the 7th of September. At this time it, was kno*vn that the maw of the rebel army had lasted up the souih side of the Potomac in the direction of Leesburg, and that a portion of that aimy had crossed into Maryland; but whether it was their intention to cross their whole force, with a view to turn Washington by a Hank movement down the north ban * of he r^tom**/, to move on Baltimore, or to invade Pennsylvania, were questions which at that time we had no means of determining. This uncertainty as to the intentions of the enemy obliged me, up to the 13th of September, to march cautiously, and to advance the army in such order as continually to keep Washington and Baltimore covered, and at the same time to hold the troops well in hand, so as to be able to concentrate and follow rapidly if the enemy took the direction of Pennsylvania, or to return to the defence of Washington, if. as was gn*a;ly feared by the authorities, the enemy should be merely making a feint with a small force to draw off our army, while with their main forces they stood ready to seize the first favorable opportunity to attack the capital.
In the meantime the process of reorganization rendered necessary afierthe demoralizing effects of the disastrous campaign noon the other side of the Potomac, was rapidly progressing, the troops were regaining confidence, and their former soldierly appearance and discipline were fast returning. My cavalry was pushed out continually in all directions, and all |>ossib!e steps taken to learn the positions and movements of the enemy.
The fo.lowing table shows the movements of the army from day to day, up to the 14th of September.
The right wing consisting of the 1st and 9th oorpe, under the command of Major General Burnside. moved on Frederick, the 1st corps via Brookville, Cooksville and Ridgeville, and the 3th corps via Damascus and New Market
The 2d and 12th corps, forming the centre, under the command of General Sumner, moved on Frederick; the former via Clarksburg and Urban a, and the 12 th corps on a lateral road between Urbana and New Market, thus maintaining the communication with the right wing, and covering the direct road from Frederick to Washington.
The 6th corps under the command of General 8
Franklin, moved to Buckeystown via Darncstown, Dawsonville, and Barnville, covering the road from the mouth of the Mouocacy to Rockville, and being in a position to connect with and support the centre should it have been necessary (as was supposed) to force the line of the Monocacy.
Couch's division moved by the " River road," covering that approach, watching the fords of the Potomac, and ultimately following and supporting the 6th corps.
The following extracts from telegrams received by me after my departure from Washington will show how little was known there about the enemy's movements, and the fears which were entertained for the safety of the capital.
On the 9th of September, General Halleck telegraphed me as follows:
"Until we can get better advices about the numbers of the enemy at Drainesville, I think we must be very caucus about stripping too much the forts on the Virginia side. It may bo the enemy's object to draw off the mass of our forces, and then attempt to attack from the Virginia side of the Potomac. Think of this."
Again on the 11th of September, General Halleck telegraphed me as follows:
"Why not order forward Keyes or Sigel? I think the main force of the enemy is in your front; more troops can be spared from here."
This despatch, as published by the Committee on the Conduct of the War, and furnished by the general-in-chief reads as follows: "Why not order forward Porter's corps, or Sigel's? If the main force of the enemy is iu your front, more troops can be spared from here."
I remark that the original despatch as received by me from the telegraph operator, is in the words quoted above: "I think the main force of the enemy, &c.y
In accordance with this suggestion, I aaked on the same day, that all the troops that could be spared should at once be sent to reinforce me; but none came.
On the 12th I received the following telegram from his excellency the President:
"Governor Curtin telegraphs me: 'I have advices that Jackson is crossing the Potomac at Williamsport, and probably the whole rebel army will be drawn from Maryland.'n The President adds: "Receiving nothing from Harper's Ferry or Martinsburg to-day, and positive information from Wheeling, that the line if cut, corroborates the idea, that the enemy is recrossing the Potomac. Please do not let him get off without being hurt"
On the 13th General Halleck telegraphed as follows:
"Until you know more certainly the enemy's force south of the Potomac, you are wrong in thus uncovering the capital. I am of the opinion that the enemy will send a small column towards Pennsylvania to draw your forces in that direction, then suddenly move on Washington with the forces south of the Potomac, and those he may cross over."
Again on the 14th, General Halleck telegraphed me that "scouts report a large force still on the Virginia side of the Potomac. If so, I fear you are exposing your left and rear." Again, as late as the 16th, after we had the
most positire evidence that Lee's entire army was in front of us, I received the following:
"War Department, "Sept 16, 1862—12.30 p.m. "Yours of 1 A. M. is this moment received. As you give me no information in regard to the position of your forces, except those at Sharpsburg, of course I cannot advise. I think, however you will find that the whole force of the enemy in your front has crossed the river. I fear now, more than ever, that they will recross at Harper's Ferry or below, and turn your left, thus cutting you off from Washington. This has appeared to be a part of their plan, and hence my anxiety on the subject A heavy rain might prevent it
"H. W. Halleck,
'' General-inr Chief, <( Major General Mcclellan."
The importance of moving with all due caution, so as not to uncover the national capital, until the enemy's position and plans were devel. oped, was, I believe, fully appreciated by me; and as my troops extended from the Baltimore and Ohio railroad to the Potomac, with the extreme left flank moving along that stream, and with strong,pickets left in rear to watch and guard all the available fords, I did not regard my left or rear as in any degree exposed. But k appears from the foregoing telegrams that the general-in-chief was of a different opinion, and that my movements were, in his judgment, too precipitate, not only for the safety of Washington, but also for the security of my left and rear.
The precise nature of these daily injunctions against a precipitate advance may now be perceived. The general-in-chief, in his testimony before the u Committee on the Conduct of the War," says: "In respect to General McClellan's going too fast, or too far from Washington, there can be found no such telegram from me to him, he has mistaken the meaning of the telegrams I sent him. I telegraphed him that he was going too far, not from Washington, but from the Pbtomac, leaving General Lee the opportunity to come down the Potomac and get between him ftftd Washington. I thought General McClellan should keep more on the Potomac, and press forward his left rather than Ms right, so as the more readily to relieve Harper's Ferry."
As I can find no telegram from the generalin-chief recommending me to keep my left flank nearer the Potomac, I am compelled to believe that when he. gave this testimony he had forgotten the purport of the telegrams above quoted; and had also'ceased to remember the fact, well knawnto him at the time, that my left, from the: time. I left Washington, always rested on the Potomac, and that my center was continually in .position to reinforce the left or right as Occasion might require. Had I advanced my left flank, along the,Potomac more rapidly than the other, columns marched upon the roads to the right, I: should have thrown that flank out of supporting distance of the other troops, and greatly exposed jt And if I had marched the entire army in one coliimn along the backs of the river, instead of ;pon five different parallel roads, the column,
with its trains, would have extended about fifty miles, and the enemy might have defeated the advance before the rear could have reached the scene of action. Moreover such a movement would have uncovered the communications with Baltimore and Washington on our right, and exposed our left and rear.
I presume it will be admitted by every military man that it was necessary to move the army ik such order that it could at any time be concentrated for battle, and I am of opinion that this object could not have been accomplished in any other way than the one employed. Any other disposition of our forces would have subjected them to defeat in detached fragments.
On the 10th of September, I received from my scouts information which rendered it quite probable that General Lee's army was in the vicinity of Frederick, but whether his intention was k> move towards Baltimore or Pennsylvania was not then known.
On the 11th I ordered General Burnside u» push a strong reconnoissance across the National road and the Baltimore and Ohio railroad towards New Market, and if he learned that the enemy had moved towards Hagerstown, to press on rapidly to Frederick, keeping his troops constantly ready to meet the enemy in force. A corresponding movement of all the troops in the center and on t*ie left was ordered in the direction of Urbana and Poolesville.
On the 12th a portion of the right wing entered Frederick, aftei a brisk skirmish at the outskirts of the city and in the streets. On the 13th the main bodies of the right wing and center passed through Frederick.
It was soon ascertained that the main body of the enemy's forces had marched out of the city on the two previous days, taking the roads to Boonsboro' and Harper's Ferry, thereby rendering it necessary to force the passes through the Catoctin and South Mountain ridges, and gain possession of Boonsboro1 and Kohrersville before any relief conld be extended to Colonel Miles at Harper's Ferry.
On the 13th, an order fell into |ny hands issued by General Lee, which fully discloses his plans, and I immediately gave orders for a rapid and vigorous forward movement
The following is a copy of the order referred to:
"Heapquabters Army Of Northern Vitoinia, "Sept. 9, 1862,.
"SPECIAL ORDERS NO. 191.
"The army will resume its march to-morrow, taking the Hagerstown road. General Jackson's .command will form the advance,, and, after passing Middlctown, with such portion as he may select, will take the route towards Sharpsburg, cross 1 he Potomac at the most convenient point, and by Friday night take possession of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, capture such of the enemy as may be at ilartinsburg, and intercept such as may attempt to escape from Harper's Ferry.
"General Longstreet's command will,pursue the same road as far as Boonsboro',.where it will halt with the reserve, supply and baggage trains of the army.