« ZurückWeiter »
“This, I am happy to say, is now nearly accomplished. I have also, during the same time, repeatedly urged upon you the importance of supplying cavalry and artillery horses to replace those broken down by hard service; and steps have been taken to insure a prompt delivery.
“Our cavalry, even when well supplied with horses, is much inferior in numbers to that of the enemy, but in efficiency has proved itself superior. So forcibly has this been impressed upon our old regiments by repeated successes, that the men are fully persuaded that they are equal to twice their number of rebel cavalry.
“Exclusive of the cavalry force now engaged in picketing the river, I have not at present over about one thousand (1000) horses for service. Officers have been sent in various directions to purchase horses, and I expect them
Without more cavalry-horses, our communications, from the moment we march, would be at the mercy of the large cavalry forces of the enemy, and it would not be possible for us to cover our flanks properly, or to obtain the necessary information of the position and movements of the enemy, in such a way as to insure success. My experience has shown the necessity of a large and efficient cavalry force.
"Under the foregoing circumstances, I beg leave to ask whether the President desires me to march on the enemy at once, or to await the reception of the new horses, every possible step having been taken to insure their prompt arrival.
GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN,
"Major-General commanding. “Major-General H. W. HALLECK,
“On the same day General Halleck replied as follows:
«• WASHINGTON, October 21, 1862, 3 P. M. “Your telegram of 12 m. has been submitted to the
President. He directs me to say that he has no change to make in his order of the 6th instant. “If
you have not been, and are not now, in condition to obey it, you will be able to show such want of ability. The President does not expect impossibilities; but he is very anxious that all this good weather should not be wasted in inactivity. Telegraph when you will move, and on what lines you propose to march.
“«H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief. Major-General GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN.'” General Halleck's reply is ambiguous, wary, cold; but General McClellan bad a right to draw from it the inference which he says he did, as follows :
“From the tenor of this despatch I conceived that it was left for my judgment to decide whether or not it was possible to move with safety to the army at that time; and this responsibility I exercised with the more confidence in view of the strong assurances of his trust in me, as commander of that army, with which the President had
seen fit to honor me during his last visit. “ The cavalry requirements, without which an advance would have been in the highest degree injudicious and unsafe, were still wanting.
“The country before us was an enemy's country, where the inhabitants furnished to the enemy every possible assistance; providing food for men and forage for animals, giving all information concerning our movements, and rendering every aid in their power to the enemy's
“It was manifest that we should find it, as we subsequently did, a hostile district, where we could derive no aid from the inhabitants that would justify dispensing with the active co-operation of an efficient cavalry force. Accordingly, I fixed upon the 1st of November as the
earliest date at which the forward movement could well be commenced.”
The above inference is strengthened by a subsequent despatch from General Halleck, dated October 26, in which he says,
'Since you left Washington, I have advised and suggested in relation to your movements; but I have given you no orders. I do not give you any now. The Government has intrusted you with defeating and driving back the rebel army in your front. I shall not attempt to control you in the measures you may adopt for that purpose. You are informed of my views; but the President has left you at liberty to adopt them or not, as you may deem best.”
On the 26th of October the army began to cross the Potomac, and by the 2d of November all the corps were on the right bank, marching to the South, on a line east of the Blue Ridge, which had been selected by General McClellan partly because it would secure him the largest accession of force and partly because the President had always been in favor of it. His purpose was to march his army to a point where it could derive its supplies from the Manassas Gap Railway, and where it could be held in hand ready for action or movement in any direction.
On the 7th of November the several corps of the army were at or near Warrenton, and, as General McClellan says, "in admirable condition and spirits. I doubt whether during the whole period that I had the honor to command the Army of the Potomac,
it was in such excellent condition to fight a great battle.” Of the Confederate army, Longstreet's corps was in front at Culpepper, and the remaining portion was west of the Blue Ridge, near Chester's and Thornton's Gaps. General McClellan's plan was to separate the two wings of the enemy's forces, and either beat Longstreet separately, or force him to fall back at least upon Gordonsville so as to effect his junction with the rest of the army
In the event of a battle he felt confident of a brilliant victory. Late on the evening of the 7th, the following orders were delivered to him by General Buckingham :
“HEAD-QUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
WISHES, ATE., Novembet 5Y362.} "General:-On the receipt of the order of the President sent herewith, you will immediately turn over your command to Major-General Burnside, and repair to Trenton, N.J., reporting on your arrival at that place by telegraph for further orders. “Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
“H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief. “Major-General McClellan.”
“War DePARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
WASHington, November 5, 1862.
“General Orders No. 182. “By direction of the President of the United States, it is ordered that Major-General McClellan be relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac, and that Major-General Burnside take the command of that army. “ By order of the Secretary of War:
“E. D. TOWNSEND, Adjutant-General.”
The reasons for this summary and abrupt dismissal of General McClellan, strange to say, bave never been distinctly and officially given to the people of the United States. The President, in his annual message to Congress, only twenty-six days later than the date of his order of removal, says nothing upon the subject.
The general-in-chief, in his Report, addressed to the Secretary of War, says, “From the 17th of September till the 26th of October, McClellan's main army remained on the north bank of the Potomac, in the vicinity of Sharpsburg and Harper's Ferry. The long inactivity of so large an army in the face of a defeated foe and during the most favorable season for rapid movements and a vigorous campaign, was a matter of great disappointment and regret. Your letter of the 27th and my reply on the 28th of October, in regard to the alleged causes of this unhappy delay, I herewith submit, marked Exhibit No. 5. In reply to the telegraphic order of the 6th of October, quoted in my letter of the 28th, above referred to, General McClellan disapproved of the plan of crossing the Potomac south of the Blue Ridge, and said that he would cross at Harper's Ferry and advance upon Winchester. He, however, did not begin to cross till the 26th of October, and then at Berlin.
“ The passage occupied several days, and was