Today in History:

26 Series I Volume XI-I Serial 12 - Peninsular Campaign Part I


All the information obtained from deserters, negroes, and spies indicated that the enemy occupied in force all the approaches to Richmond from the east, and that he intended to dispute every step of our advance beyond the Chickahominy and the passage of the stream opposite our right. That their army was superior to ours in numbers did not admit of a doubt. Strong defenses had been constructed around Richmond.

Impressed by these facts with the necessity of strengthening the army of the struggle, I did not fail to urge repeatedly upon my superiors the importance of re-enforcing the Army of the Potomac with every disposable man in order to insure the success of our attack upon the rebel capital.

On the 10th of May I telegraphed as follows:


Three miles beyond Williamsburg, May 10, 1862-5 a.m.

From the information reaching me from every source I regard it as certain that the enemy will meet us with all his force on or rear the Chickahominy. They ca concentrate many more men than I have, and are collecting troops from all quarters, especially well-disciplined troops from the South. Casualties, sickness, garrisons, and guards have much reduced our numbers, and will continue to do so. I shall fight the rebel army with whatever force I may have, but duty requires me to urge that every effort be made to re-enforce me without delay with all the disposable troops in Eastern Virginia, and that we concentrate all our forces as far as possible to fight the great battle now impending and to make id decisive.

It is possible that the enemy may abandon Richmond without a serious struggle, but I do not believe he will, and it would be unwise to count upon anything but a stubborn and desperate defense-a life-and-death contest. I see no other hope for him than to fight this battle, and we must win it. I shall fight them whatever their force may be, but I ask for every man that the Department can send me. No troops should now be left unemployed. Those who entertain the opinion that the rebels will abandon Richmond without a struggle are in my judgment badly advised, and do not comprehend their situation, which is one requiring desperate measures.

I beg that the President and Secretary will maturely weight what I say, and leave nothing undone to comply with my request. If I am not re-enforced, it is probable that I will be obliged to fight nearly double my numbers, strongly intrenched. I do not think it will be at all possible for me to bring more than 70,000 men upon the field of battle.


Major-General, Commanding.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

On the 14th of May I sent the following telegram to the President:


I have more than once telegraphed to the Secretary of War, stating that in my opinion the enemy were concentrating all their available force to fight this army in front of Richmond, and that such ought to be their policy. I have received no reply whatever to any of these telegraphs. I beg leave to repeat their substance to Your Excellency, and to ask that kind consideration which you have ever accorded to my representations and views. All my information from every source accessible to me establishes the fixed purpose of the rebels to defend Richmond against this army by offering us battle with all the troops they can collect from east, west, and south, and my own opinion is confirmed by that of all my commanders whom I have been able to consult.

Casualties, sickness, garrisons, and guards have much weakened my force, and will continue to do so. I cannot bring into actual battle against the enemy more than 80,000 men at the utmost, and with them I must attack in position, probably intrenched, a much larger force, perhaps double my numbers. It is possible that Richmond may be abandoned without a serious struggle, but the enemy are actually in great strength between here and there, and it would be unwise, and even insane, for me to calculate upon anything but a stubborn and desperate resistance. If they should abandon Richmond it may well be that it is done with the purpose of making the stand at some place in Virginia south or west of there, and we should be in condition to press them without delay. The Confederate leaders must employ their utmost efforts against this army in Virginia, and they will be supported by the whole body