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CHAP. IX. mark or comment. The President spoke somewhat

at length on the matter, and General McClellan
said very briefly that “the case was so clear a blind
man could see it,” and went off instinctively upon
the inadequacy of his forces. The Secretary of the
Treasury, whose sympathies were with that section
of his party which had already lost all confidence
in General McClellan, asked him point-blank what
he intended to do with the army and when he
intended doing it. A long silence ensued. Even if
the question had been a proper one, it is doubtful
whether General McClellan would have answered
it; under the circumstances, it must have re-
quired some self-control for him to have contented
himself with merely evading it. He said that Buell,
in Kentucky, must move first; and then refused to
answer the question unless ordered to do so. The
President asked him if he counted upon any par-
ticular time, not asking what the time was — but
had he in his own mind any particular time fixed
when a movement could be begun ! This question
was evidently put as affording a means of closing
a conference which was becoming disagreeable if
not dangerous. McClellan promptly answered in
the affirmative, and the President rejoined, “Then
I will adjourn this meeting.”

It is a remarkable fact that although the plan recommended by these generals was exactly the plan suggested six weeks before by the President to McClellan, neither of them made the slightest reference to that incident. That Mr. Lincoln did not refer to a matter so close to his heart is a striking instance of his reticence and his magnanimity; that General McClellan never mentioned it would


seem to show that he thought so little of the matter CHAP. IX. as to have forgotten it. He seemed also to have thought little of this conference; he makes no reference to it in his report. He says, referring to this period : “About the middle of January, 1862, upon recovering from a severe illness, I found that excessive anxiety for an immediate movement of the Army of the Potomac had taken possession of the minds of the Administration."

The last words of the phrase refer not only to the President, but to Mr. Stanton, the new Secretary of War, who began as soon as he took charge of his department to ply the commander of the army with continual incitements to activity. All suggestions of this sort, whether coming from the Government, Congress, or the press, General McClellan received with surprise and displeasure; and the resentment and vexation of his immediate friends and associates found vent in expressions of contempt for unmilitary critics, which, being reported, only increased the evil that provoked them. He at last laid before the President his plan for attacking Richmond by the lower Chesapeake, which the President disapproved, having previously convinced himself of the superior merit of the plan for a direct movement agreed upon by Generals McDowell, Franklin, and Meigs, who were ignorant of the fact that it was his. Further delay ensued, the President not being willing to accept a plan condemned by his own judgment and by the best professional opinion that he could obtain, and General McClellan being equally reluctant to adopt a plan that was not his own.

The President at last, at the end of his patience,


CHAP. IX. convinced that nothing would be done unless he

intervened by a positive command, issued on the
27th of January his “General War Order, No. 1.”
He wrote it without consultation with any one, and
read it to the Cabinet, not for their sanction, but
for their information. The order directed that
the 22d day of February, 1862, be the day for a
general movement of the land and naval forces of
the United States against the insurgent forces; that
especially the army at and about Fortress Monroe,
the Army of the Potomac, the Army of Western
Virginia, the army near Munfordville, Kentucky,
the army and flotilla at Cairo, and a naval force in
the Gulf of Mexico, be ready to move on that day;
that all other forces, both land and naval, with
their respective commanders, obey existing orders
for the time, and be ready to obey additional orders
when duly given; that the heads of departments,
and especially the Secretaries of War and of the
Navy, with all their subordinates, and the General-
in-Chief, with all other commanders and subordi-

nates of land and naval forces, will severally be W.R. held to their strict and full responsibilities for

prompt execution of this order."

Four days later, as a necessary result of this general summons to action, a special instruction, called “President's Special War Order, No 1,” was issued to General McClellan, commanding "that all the disposable force of the Army of the Potomac, after providing safely for the defense of Washington, be formed into an expedition for the immediate object of seizing and occupying a point upon the railroad

southwestward of what is known as Manassas V., p. 41. Junction, all details to be in the discretion of the


Jan. 27, 1862.

Vol. V.,

p. 41.

Ibid., Jan. 31,

1862. W. R. VOL.

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