Today in History:

22 Series I Volume XII-II Serial 16 - Second Manassas Part II

Page 22 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

serious consequence which would be likely to result from it, and urged upon him that he should send orders to General McClellan that if he were unable to maintain his position on the Chickahominy, and were pressed by superior forces of the enemy, to mass his whole force on the north side of that stream, even at the risk of losing much material of war, and endeavor to make his way in the direction of Hanover Court-House; but in no event to retreat with his army farther to the south than the White House or York River. I stated to the President that the retreat to James River was carrying General McClellan away from any re-enforcements that could possibly be sent him within a reasonable time, and was absolutely depriving him of any substantial aid from the forces under my command; that by this movement the whole army of the enemy would be interposed between his army and mine, and that they would then be at liberty to strike in either direction, as they might consider it most advantageous; that this movement to James River would leave entirely unprotected, except in so far as the small force under my command was able to protect it, the whole region in front of Washington, and that it would therefore be impossible to send any of the forces under my command to re-enforce General McClellan without rendering it certain that the enemy, even in the worst case for themselves, would have the privilege and power of exchanging Richmond for Washington City; that to them the loss of Richmond would be trifling, whilst the loss of Washington to us would be conclusive, or nearly so, in its results upon this war. I was so deeply impressed with these views that I repeatedly and earnestly urged them upon the President and Secretary of War. After General McClellan had taken up his position at Harrison's Landing I addressed him a letter, stating to him my position and the distribution of the troops under my command, and requesting him in all earnestness and good faith to write me fully and freely his views, and to suggest to me any measures which he thought desirable to enable me to co-operate with him or to render any assistance in my power in the operations of the army under his command. I stated to him that I had no object except to assist his operations, and that I would undertake any labor and run any risk for that purpose. I therefore desired him to feel no hesitation in communicating freely with me, as he might rest assured that every suggestion that he would make would meet all respect and consideration at my hands, and that, so far as it was in my power to do so, I would carry out his wishes with all energy and with all the means at my command. In reply to this communication I received a letter from General McClellan, very general in its terms, and proposing nothing toward the accomplishment of the purpose I had suggested to him. It became apparent that, considering the situation in which the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Virginia were placed in relation to each other, and the absolute necessity of harmonious and prompt co-operation between them, some military superior both of General McClellan and myself should be called to Washington and placed in command of all the operations in Virginia.

In accordance with these views Major-General Halleck was called to Washington and placed in general command. Many circumstances, which it is not necessary here to set forth, induced me to express to the President, to the Secretary of War, and to General Halleck my desire to be relieved from the command of the Army of Virginia and to be returned to the Western country.

My services, however, were considered necessary in the projected campaign, and my wishes were not complied with. I accordingly took the field in Virginia with grave foreboding of the result, but with a

Page 22 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.