Today in History:

11 Series I Volume XIX-I Serial 27 - Antietam Part I


you move up the Valley of the Shenandoah, not more than 12,000 or 15,000 can be sent to you. The President advises the interior line, between Washington and the enemy, but does not order it. He is very desirous that your army move as soon as possible. You will immediately report what line you adopt and when you intend to cross the river; also to what point the re-enforcements are to be sent. It is necessary that the plan of your operations be positively determined on before orders are given for building bridges and repairing railroads.

I am directed to add that the Secretary of War and the General-in Chief fully concur with the President in these instructions.




October 7, 1862-1 p. m. (Received 2,30 p. m.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, U. S. Army:

After a full consultation with the corps commanders in my vicinity, I have determined to adopt the line of the Shenandoah for immediate operations against the enemy, now near Winchester. On no other line north of Washington can the army be supplied, nor can it on any other cover Maryland and Pennsylvania. Were we to cross the river below the mouth of the Shenandoah, we would leave it in the power of the enemy to recross into Maryland, and thus check the movements. In the same case we would voluntarily give him the advantage of the strong line of the Shenandoah, no point of which could be reached by us in advance of him. I see no objective point of strategical value to be gained or sought for by a movement between the Shenandoah and Washington. I wish to state distinctly that I do not regard the line of the Shenandoah Valley as important for ulterior objects. It is important only so long as the enemy remains near Winchester, and we cannot follow that line far beyond that, simply because the country is destitute of supplies, and we have not sufficient means of transportation to enable us to advance more than 20 or 25 miles beyond a railway or canal terminus. If the enemy abandon Winchester and fall back upon Stanton, it will be impossible for us to pursue him by that route, and we must then take a new line of operations, based upon water or railway communication. The only possible object to be gained by an advance from this vicinity is to fight the enemy near Winchester. If they retreat we have nothing to gain by pursuing them-in fact, cannot do so to any great distance. The object I propose to myself are to fight the enemy if they remain near Winchester, or, failing in that, to force them to abandon the Valley of the Shenandoah; then to adopt a new and decisive line of operations which shall strike at the heart of the rebellion.

I have taken all possible measures to insure the most prompt equipment of the troops, but from all that I can learn it will be at least three days before the First, Fifth, and Sixth Corps are in condition to move from their present camps. They need shoes and other indispensable articles of clothing, as well as shelter-tents, &c. I beg to assure you that not an hour shall be lost in carrying your instructions into effect. Please send the re-enforcements to Harper's Ferry. I would prefer that the new regiments be sent as regiments, not brigade, unless already done so with old troops. I would again ask for Peck's division, and,