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LINCOLN DIRECTS COÖPERATION
\HE President was highly gratified when Hal- CHAP. VI.
leck wrote from the Department of Missouri, under date of December 19, to McClellan, who was yet General-in-Chief, that the discipline of the troops was improving; that sundry minor expeditions had been successful; that Price would be ruined in Missouri by another retreat; and that he hoped soon to be able to attack him under favoring conditions; also that he was gradually curing the serious disorders in military administration be- MoClellan, queathed him by Frémont. “An excellent letter, 1861.com), wrote Lincoln, as an endorsement, though he also noted his regret that Halleck was unfavorably im- 1861.W.R. pressed with Lane on the Kansas border, from pp. 148-460. whose coöperation under Hunter, with a quasiindependent column, the President had hoped for substantial benefit. But the prospect at Washington was not so encouraging. Except to organize, drill, and review the Army of the Potomac, to make an unfruitful reconnaissance, and to suffer the lamentable Ball's Bluff disaster, McClellan had nothing to show for his five months of local, and two months of chief command. The splendid autumn weather, the wholesome air, and dry roads
Endorsement, Dec. 27,
Lincoln to Buell and
Jan. 1, 1862.
W.R. Vol. VII.,
CHAP. VI. had come and gone. Rain, snow, and mud, crip
pling clogs to military movements in all lands and epochs, were to be expected for a quarter, if not for half, the coming year. Besides all this, McClellan had fallen seriously ill. With most urgent need of early action, every prospect of securing it
seemed to be thus cut off. In this dilemma, Linto Hallock coln turned to the Western commanders. GenDec... eral McClellan is sick," he telegraphed to Halleck
on the last day of the year. “Are General Buell and yourself in concert?” The following day he
repeated his inquiry, or rather his prompting sugHallecand gestion that, McClellan being incapable of work,
Buell and Halleck should at once establish a vigorous and hearty coöperation. Their replies were not specially promising. “There is no arrangement between General Halleck and myself," responded Buell, adding that he depended on McClellan for instructions to this end; while Halleck said, “I have never received a word from General Buell. I am not ready to coöperate with him," adding in his turn that he had written to McClellan, and that too much haste would ruin everything. Plainly, therefore, the military machine, both East and West, was not only at a complete standstill, but was without a programme.
Of what avail then were McClellan's office and function of general-in-chief if such a contingency revealed either his incapacity or his neglect! The force of this question is immensely increased when we see how in the same episode McClellan's acts followed Lincoln's suggestions. However silent and confiding in the skill and energy of his generals, the President had studied the military situa
W.R Vol. VII.,
VII., p. 526.
Lincoln to Chase,
tion with unremitting diligence. In his telegram CHAP. VI. of December 31 to Halleck, he started a pregnant inquiry. “When he [Buell] moves on Bowling Halleck, Green, what hinders it being reënforced from Co- 1861. lumbus? And he asked the same question at the same time of Buell. Halleck seems to have had no answer to make; Buell sent the only reply that was possible: “There is nothing to prevent Bowling Green being reënforced from Columbus if a military force is not brought to bear on the latter to Lincoln, place.” The sequel proves that Lincoln was not W. R. Vol content to permit this know-nothing and do-nothing policy to continue. “I have just been with Jan. 2, 1862. General McClellan, and he is much better," he wrote salmon P. the day after New Year's; and in this interview the necessity for action and the telegrams from the Western commanders were fully discussed, as becomes evident from the fact that the following day McClellan wrote a letter to Halleck containing an earnest suggestion to remedy the neglect and need pointed out by Lincoln's dispatch of December 31. In this letter McClellan advised an expedition up the Cumberland River, a demonstration on Columbus, and a feint on the Tennessee River, all for the Mochallan, purpose of preventing reënforcements from joining Buckner and Johnston at Bowling Green, whom pp. 527, 628. Buell was preparing to attack.
Meanwhile Lincoln's dispatch of inquiry had renewed the attention, and perhaps aroused the ambition, of Buell. He and Halleck had, after Lincoln's prompting, interchanged dispatches about concerted action. Halleck reported a withdrawal of troops from Missouri almost impossible”; to which Buell replied that "the great power of the
Jan. 3, 1862.
W. R. Vol. VII.,
Buell to Halleck, Jan. 3, 1862.
W. R. Vol. VII.,
Buell, Jan. 6, 1862.
W.R. Vol. VII.,
CHAP. VI. rebellion in the West is arrayed” on a line from
Columbus to Bowling Green, and that two gunboat expeditions with a support of twenty thousand men should attack its center by way of the Cum
berland and Tennessee rivers, and that “whatever pp. 628, 628. is done should be done speedily, within a few days."
Halleck, however, did not favorably entertain the proposition. His reply discussed an altogether different question. He said it would be madness for him with his forces to attempt any serious operation against Camp Beauregard or Columbus, and that if Buell's Bowling Green movement required his help, it ought to be delayed a few weeks, when he could probably furnish some troops. Leaving altogether unanswered Buell's suggestion for the movement up the Cumberland and Tennessee, Halleck stated his strong disapproval of the Bowling Green movement, and on the same day he repeated these views a little more fully in a letter to the President. Premising that he could not then withdraw any troops from Missouri,“ without risking the loss of this State," he said, “I know nothing of General Buell's intended operations, never having received any information in regard to the general plan of campaign. If it be intended that his column shall move on Bowling Green, while another moves from Cairo or Paducah on Columbus or Camp Beauregard, it will be a repetition of the same strategic error which produced the disaster of Bull Run. To operate on exterior lines against an enemy occupying a central position will fail, as it always has failed, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. It is condemned by every military authority I have ever
read. General Buell's army and the forces at Pa- CHAP. VL ducah occupy precisely the same position in rela- Hallock to tion to each other and to the enemy as did the Jaw. 1962. armies of McDowell and Patterson before the battle pp. 632, 638. of Bull Run."
Lincoln, finding in these replies but a continuation not only of the delay, but also of the want of plans, and especially of energetic joint action which had thus far in a majority of cases marked the operations of the various commanders, was not disposed further to allow matters to remain in such unfruitful conditions. Under his prompting McClellan, on this same 6th of January, wrote to Buell: “Halleck, from his own account, will not soon be in a condition to support properly a movement up the Cumberland. Why not make the movement independently of and without waiting for that?" And on the next day Lincoln followed this inquiry with a still more energetic monition: “Please name as early a day as you safely can on or before which you can be ready to move southward in concert with Major-General Halleck. Delay is ruining us, and it is indispensable for me to have something definite. I send a like dispatch to Major-General Halleck.” This peremptory order seems to have brought nothing except a reply from Halleck: “I have asked General Buell to desig- Jan. 71862 nate a day for a demonstration to assist him. It midnight). is all I can do till I get arms." Three days later, Halleck's already quoted letter of the 6th reached Washington by mail, and after its perusal the President endorsed upon it, with a heart-sickness Lincoln, eneasily discernible in the words : “ The within is a 1862. W.R. copy of a letter just received from General Halleck.
to Buell, Jan. 6, 1862.
W. R. Vol. VII.,
Buell, Jan. 7, 1862
W. R. Vol. VII.,