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cannot otherwise supply a greater number of troops than we now have on the Virginia side at that point. When the river rises so that the enemy cannot cross in force, I purpose concentrating the army somewhere near Harper's Ferry, and then acting cording to circumstances, viz,moving on Winchester, if from the position and attitude of the enemy we are likely to gain a great advantage by doing so, or lese devoting reasonable time to the organization of the army and instruction of the new troops, preparatory to an advance on whatever line may be determined. In any event, I read it as absolutely necessary to send new regiments at once to the old corps for purposes of instruction, and that the old regiments be filled at once. I have no fears as to an attack on Washington by the line of Manassas. Holding Harper's ferry as I do, they will not run the risk of an attack on their flank and rear while they have the garrison of Washington in their front. I rather apprehend a renewal of the attempt in Maryland should the river remain low for a great length of time, and should they receive considerable addition to their force.
I would be glad to have Peck's division as soon as possible. I am surprised that Sigel's men should have been sent to Western Virginia without my knowledge. The last I heard from you on the subject was that they were at my disposition. In the last battles the enemy was undoubtedly greatly superior to us in number, and it was only by very hard fighting that we gained the advantage we did. As it was, the result was at one period very doubtful, and we had all we could do to win the day. If the enemy receives considerable re-enforcements and we none, it is possible that I may have too much on my hands in the next battle. My own view of the proper policy to be-pursued, is to retain in Washington merely the force necessary to garrison it, and to send everything else available to re-enforce this army. The railways give us the means of promptly re-enforcing Washington should it become necessary. If I am re-enforced, as I ask, and am allowed to take my own course, I will hold myself responsible for the safety of Washington. Several persons recently from Richmond say that there are no troops there except conscripts, and they few in number. I hope to give you details as to late battles by this evening. I am about starting again for Harper's Ferry.
GEO. B. MCCLELLAN,
The work of reorganizing, drilling, and supplying the army I began at the earliest moment. The different corps were stationed along the river in the best positions to cover and guard the fords. The great extent of the river front from near Washington to Cumberland (some 150 miles), together with the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, was to be carefully watched and guarded, to prevent, if possible, the enemy's raids. Reconnaissances upon the Virginia side of the river, for the purpose of learning the enemy's positions and movements, were made frequently, so that our cavalry, which, from the time we left Washington, had performed the most laborious service, and had from the commencement been deficient in numbers, was found totally inadequate to the requirements of the army. This overwork had broken down the greater part of the horses; disease had appeared among them, and but a very small portion of our original cavalry force was fit for service. To such an extent had this arm become reduced, that when General Stuart made his raid into Pennsylvania on the 11th of October with 2,000 men, I could only mount 800 men to follow him.
Harper's Ferry was occupied on the 22d, and in order to prevent a catastrophe similar to the one which had happened to Colonel Miles, I immediately ordered Maryland, Bolivar, and Loudoun Heights to be strongly fortified. This was done as far as the time and means at our disposal permitted.
The main army of the enemy during this time remained in the vicinity of Martinsburg and Bunker Hill, and occupied itself in drafting and coercing every able-bodied citizen into the ranks, forcibly taking their property where it was not voluntarily offered, burning bridges, and destroying railroads.
On the 1st day of October His Excellency the President honored the
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