Report of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, U.S. Army, General-in-Chief,
of operations September 3-October 24.
Operations in Northern Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
September 3-November 14, 1862.

O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XIX/1 [S# 27]

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D.C., November 25, 1862.

Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

        SIR: In compliance with your orders, I have the honor to submit the following report of military operations since the 23d of July last, when, in compliance with the President's order of July 11, I assumed command of the Army as General-in-Chief.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

        Seeing that an attack upon Washington would now be futile, Lee pushed his main army across the Potomac for a raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania. General McClellan was directed to pursue him with all the troops which were not required for the defense of Washington. Several corps were immediately thrown out in observation at Daruestown, Rockville, and Leesborough, and most of his army was in motion by the 5th of September. A portion of it entered Frederick on the 12th.
        As this campaign was to be carried on within the department commanded by Major-General Wool, I directed General McClellan to assume control of all troops within his reach, without regard to departmental lines. The garrisons of Winchester and Martinsburg had been withdrawn to Harper's Ferry, and the commanding officer of that post had been advised by my chief of staff to mainly confine his defense, in case he was attacked by superior forces, to the position of Maryland Heights, which could have been held a long time against overwhelming numbers. To withdraw him entirely from that position, with the great body of Lee's forces between him and our army, would not only expose the garrison to capture, but all the artillery and stores collected at that place must either be destroyed or left to the enemy. The only feasible plan was for him to hold his position until General McClellan could relieve him or open a communication so that he could evacuate it in safety. These views were communicated both to General McClellan and to Colonel Miles.
        The left of General McClellan's army pursued a part of the enemy's forces to the South Mountain, where, on the 14th, he made a stand. A severe battle ensued, the enemy being defeated and driven from his position with heavy loss. Lee's army then fell back behind Antietam Creek, a few miles above its month, and took a position admirably suited for defense. Our army attacked him on the 16th, and a hotly contested battle was fought on that and the ensuing day, which resulted in the defeat of the rebel forces. On the night of the 17th our troops slept on the field which they had so bravely won. On the 18th neither party renewed the attack, and in the night of the 18th and 19th General Lee withdrew his army to the south side of the Potomac.
        Our loss in the several battles on South Mountain and at Antietam was 1,742 killed, 8,066 wounded, and 913 missing, making a total of 10,721.  General McClellan estimates the enemy's loss at nearly 30,000, but their own accounts give their loss at about 14,000 in killed and wounded.
        On the approach of the enemy to Harper's Ferry, the officer in command on Maryland Heights destroyed his artillery and abandoned his post, and on the 15th Colonel Miles surrendered Harper's Ferry with only a slight resistance and within hearing of the guns of General McClellan's army. As this whole matter has been investigated and reported upon by a military commission,  it is unnecessary for me to discuss the disgraceful surrender of the post and army under Colonel Miles' command.
        General McClellan's preliminary report of his operations in Maryland, including the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, is submitted herewith, marked Exhibit No. 4.   No reports of his subordinate officers have been submitted.
        From the 17th of September till the 26th of October General 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 of the 28th of October in regard to the alleged causes of this unfortunate delay, I submit herewith, 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. This passage occupied several days, and was completed about the 3d of November. What caused him to change his views, or what his plan of campaign was, I am ignorant, for about this time he ceased to communicate with me in regard to his operations, sending his reports directly to the President.
        On the 5th instant I received the written order of the President relieving General McClellan and placing General Burnside in command of the Army of the Potomac. This order was transmitted by a special messenger, who delivered it to General McClellan at Rectortown on the 7th.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

        It is seen from this brief summary of military operations during the last three or four months, that while our soldiers have generally fought with bravery and gained many important battles, these victories have not produced the usual results. In many instances the defeated foe was not followed from the battle-field, and oven where a pursuit was at tempted, it almost invariably failed to effect the capture or destruction of any part of the retreating army. This is a matter which requires serious and careful consideration. A victorious army is supposed to be in condition to pursue its defeated the with advantage, and during such pursuit to do him serious if not fatal injury. This result has usually been attained in other countries. Is there any reason why it should not be expected in this?
        It is easily understood that in a country like that between Yorktown and Richmond, or the thickly-wooded swamps of Mississippi and Louisiana, a retreating force, by felling trees across the roads and destroying bridges over deep and marshy streams, can effectually prevent any rapid pursuit. The one in a few minutes blocks up or destroys roads which the other cannot clear or repair for hours, or even days. The pursuer has very little hope of overtaking his flying foe. But this reasoning is not applicable to Maryland and the greater part of Virginia, Kentucky, and Middle Tennessee. It must be admitted that in these theaters of war the rebel armies have exhibited much more mobility and activity than our own. Not only do they outmarch us, both in advance and retreat, but on two memorable occasions their cavalry have made with impunity the entire circuit of the Army of the Potomac. If it be true that, the success of an army depends upon its "arms and its legs," ours has shown itself deficient in the latter of these essential requisites. This defect has been attributed to our enormous baggage and supply trains, and to a want of training in making marches.
        There is no doubt that the baggage trains of our armies have been excessively large. Every possible effort has been made within the last few weeks to reduce them, but this is no easy task. Once accustomed to a certain amount of transportation, an army is unwilling to do without the luxuries which it supplies in the field. By the recent increase of the army ration, which was previously larger than in any other country, a considerable amount of transportation is employed in moving provisions and supplies which are not necessary for the subsistence of the soldiers.
        An examination of the returns of the Quartermaster-General a few days since developed the fact that the Army of the Potomac, including the troops around Washington, most of which are without field trains, had 54,000 animals, and that 9,000 of these were employed in transporting ambulances and hospital stores. In addition to all this, the roads, streets, and wharves are encumbered with private vehicles used for the transportation of sutler's stores. No matter how large the main body of an army may be, it can never move rapidly with such a mass of impediments, and yet speculative projects are almost daily urged on the War Department to increase the immobility of our armies in the field. Again, our troops, especially those in the East, have been very little accustomed to marching--at least to that kind of marching usually required by active operations in the field.
        Absenteeism is one of the most serious evils in all our armies. Hundreds of officers and thousands of men are almost continually away from their commands. Many of these are really stragglers and deserters. In regard to officers, the evil is being abated by summary dismissals, and if the law could be stringently enforced against the men, it would soon put an end to desertions. But straggling on the march and in battle can be prevented only by severe and summary punishment inflicted on the spot.
        In this and many other important particulars our military laws require revision and amendment. They were mostly enacted for a small army and for times of peace, and are unsuited to the government of the army we now have and the war in which we are now engaged.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H.W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief.

 

[Exhibit No. 5.]

WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington City, October 27, 1862.

Major-General HALLECK, General-in-Chief:

        GENERAL: It has been publicly stated that the army under General McClellan has been unable to move during the fine weather of this fall for want of shoes, clothing, and other supplies. You will please report to this Department upon the following points:
        1st. To whom and in what manner the requisitions for supplies to the army under General McClellan have been made since you assumed command as General-in-Chief, and whether any requisition for supplies of any kind has since that time been made upon the Secretary of War or communication had with him except through you.
        2d. If you, as General-in-Chief, have taken pains to ascertain the condition of the army in respect to supplies of shoes, clothing, arms, and other necessaries, and whether there has been any neglect or delay by any Department or bureau in filling the requisitions for supplies, and what has been and is the condition of that army as compared with other armies in respect to supplies.
        3d. At what date after the battle of Antietam the orders to advance against the enemy were given to General McClellan, and how often have they been repeated.
        4th. Whether, in your opinion, there has been any want in the army under General McClellan of shoes, clothing, arms, or other equipments or supplies that ought to have prevented its advance against the enemy when the order was given.
        5th. How long was it after the orders to advance were given to General McClellan before he informed you that any shoes or clothing were wanted in his army, and what are his means of promptly communicating the wants of the army to you or to the proper bureaus of the War Department?

Yours, truly,
EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

-   -   -   -   -

WASHINGTON,
October 28, 1862.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

        SIR: In reply to the several interrogatories contained in your letter of yesterday, I have to report:
        1st. That requisitions for supplies to the army under General McClellan are made by his staff officers on the chiefs of bureaus here-that is, for quartermaster supplies, by his chief quartermaster on the Quarter-master-General; for commissary supplies, by his chief commissary on the Commissary-General, &c. No such requisitions have been, to my knowledge, made upon the Secretary of War, and none upon the General-in-Chief.
        2d. On several occasions General McClellan has telegraphed to me that his army was deficient in certain supplies. All these telegrams were immediately referred to the heads of bureaus, with orders to report. It was ascertained that in every instance the requisitions had been immediately filled except one, where the Quartermaster-General had been obliged to send from Philadelphia certain articles of clothing, tents, &c., not having a full supply here.
        There has not been, so far as I could ascertain, any neglect or delay in any Department or bureau in issuing all supplies asked for by General McClellan or by the officers of his staff. Delays have occasionally occurred in forwarding supplies by rail on account of the crowded condition of the depots or of a want of cars, but, whenever notified of this, agents have been sent out to remove the difficulty. Under the excellent superintendence of General Haupt, I think these delays have been less frequent and of shorter duration than is usual with freight trains. Any army of the size of that under General McClellan will frequently be for some days without the supplies asked for, on account of neglect in making timely requisitions and unavoidable delays in forwarding them and in distributing them to the different brigades and regiments. From all the information I can obtain, I am of opinion that the requisitions from that army have been filled more promptly, and that the men, as a general rule, have been better supplied than our armies operating in the West. The latter have operated at much greater distances from the sources of supply, and have had far less facilities for transportation. In fine, I believe that no armies in the world while in campaign have been more promptly or better supplied than ours.
        3d. Soon after the battle of Antietam, General McClellan was urged to give me information of his intended movements, in order that if he moved between the enemy and Washington, re-enforcements could be sent from this place. On the 1st of October, finding that he purposed to operate from Harper's Ferry, I urged him to cross the river at once and give battle to the enemy, pointing out to him the disadvantages of delaying till the autumn rains had swollen the Potomac and impaired the roads. On the 6th of October he was peremptorily ordered to cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy, or drive him south. "Your army must move now, while the roads are good." It will be observed that three weeks have elapsed since this order was given.
        4th. In my opinion there has been no such want of supplies in the army under Genera.1 McClellan as to prevent his compliance with the orders to advance against the enemy. Had he moved to the south side of the Potomac, he could have received his supplies almost as readily as by remaining inactive on the north side.
        5th. On the 7th of October, in a telegram in regard to his intended movements, General McClellan stated that it would require at least three days to supply the First, Fifth, and Sixth Corps; that they needed shoes and other indispensable articles of clothing, as well as shelter-tents. No complaint was made that any requisitions had not been filled, and it was inferred from his language that he was only waiting for the distribution of his supplies.
        On the 11th he telegraphed that a portion of his supplies sent by rail had been delayed. As already stated, agents were immediately sent from here to investigate this complaint, and they reported that every thing had gone forward. On the same date (the 11th), he spoke of many of his horses being broken down by fatigue.
        On the 12th he complained that the rate of supply was only 150 horses per week for the entire army there and in front of Washington. I immediately directed the Quartermaster-General to inquire into this matter, and to report why a larger supply was not furnished. General Meigs reported on the 14th that the average issue of horses to General McClellan's army in the field and in front of Washington for the previous six weeks had been 1,450 per week, or 8,754 in all; in addition, that large numbers of mules had been supplied, and that the number of animals with General McClellan's army on the Upper Potomac was over 31,000. He also reported that he was then sending to that army all the horses he could procure.
        On the 18th, General McClellan stated, in regard to General Meigs' report that he bad filled every requisition for shoes and clothing--

General Meigs may have ordered these articles to be forwarded, but they have not reached our depots, and unless greater effort to insure prompt transmission is made by the department of which General Meigs is the head, they might as well remain in New York or Philadelphia so far as this army is concerned.

        I immediately called General Meigs' attention to this apparent neglect of his department. On the 25th he reported, as the result of his investigation, that 48,000 pairs of boots and shoes had been received by the quartermaster of General McClellan's army at Harper's Ferry, Frederick, and Hagerstown; that 20,000 pairs were at Harper's Ferry depot on the 21st; that 10,000 more were on their way, and 15,000 more ordered. Colonel Ingalls, aide-de-camp and chief quartermaster to General McClellan, telegraphed on the 25th:
        The suffering for want of clothing is exaggerated, I think, and certainly might have been avoided by timely requisitions of regimental and brigade commanders.
        On the 24th he telegraphed to the Quartermaster-General that--

The clothing was not detained in cars at the depots. Such complaints are groundless. The fact is, the clothing arrives and is issued, but more is still wanted. I have ordered more than would seem necessary from any data furnished me, and I beg to remind you that you have always very promptly met all my requisitions as far as c1othing is concerned. Our department is not at fault. It provides as soon as due notice is given. I foresee no time when any army of over 100,000 men will not call for clothing and other articles.

        In regard to General McClellan's means of promptly communicating the wants of his army to me or to the proper bureaus of the War Department, I report that in addition to the ordinary mails he has been in hourly communication with Washington by telegraph.
        It is due to General Meigs that I should submit herewith a copy of a telegram received by him from General McClellan.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief.

-   -   -   -   -

GENERAL McCLELLAN'S HEADQUARTERS,
October 22, 1862---9.40 p.m.

Brigadier-General MEIGS:

        Your dispatch of this date is received. I have never intended in any letter or dispatch to make any accusation against yourself or your department for not furnishing or forwarding clothing as rapidly as it was possible for you to do. I believe that everything has been done that could be done in this respect both by yourself and department. The idea that I have tried to convey was that certain portions of the command were without clothing, and the army could not move until it was supplied.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

[Addenda. ]

McCLELLAN'S HEADQUARTERS,
October 1, 1862--11 a.m.
(Received 11.55 a.m.)

Major-General HALLECK, General-in-Chief:

        I take it for granted that we will hereafter hold Harper's Ferry as a permanent arrangement whatever line of operations may be adopted for the main army. In this event, a permanent and reliable bridge is needed there across the Shenandoah. Mr. Roebling can build a double-track suspension bridge on the existing piers in three or four weeks. The wire is now in possession of the Government, and the cost will be some $5,000 besides the wire. No pontoon nor trestle bridge can be made to resist the freshets. I ask authority to have this work undertaken at once. I would also renew the recommendation that a permanent wagon-bridge be made across the Potomac at Harper's Ferry. This without reference to the further operations of the main army, but simply as a necessity for the proper defense of Harper's Ferry itself.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

-   -   -   -   -

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 1, 1862.

Major-General MCCLELLAN:

        Your telegram of today in relation to the building of bridges at Harper's Ferry is received. If you adhere to that place as your base, why not cross at once and give battle to the enemy? Unless I am greatly deceived in regard to the enemy's numbers, this can be done now while the river is low. If you wait till the river rises, the roads will be such as to greatly impede your operations. I still adhere to the opinion formerly expressed, that, holding Maryland Heights in force, your army should cross below and compel the enemy to fall back or to give you battle. If he should recross into Maryland or move west, you will then be in his rear, and can be strongly re-enforced from Washington. I know that the Government does not contemplate the delay in your movements for the length of time required to build permanent bridges. I therefore cannot order them till your dispatch has been laid before the War Department and the President. The latter will be with you to-day, and you can consult him there.

H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief.

-   -   -   -   -

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 6, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN:

        I am instructed to telegraph you as follows: The President directs that you cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy or drive him south. Your army must move now while the roads are good. If you cross the river between the enemy and Washington, and cover the latter by your line of operations, you can be re-enforced with 30,000 men. If you move up the Valley of the Shenandoah, not more than 12,000 or 15,000 call 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-Chief fully concur with the President in these instructions.

H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief.

-   -   -   -   -

NEAR SHARPSBURG, MD.,
October 7, 1862---1 p.m. (Received 2.30 p.m.)

Maj. Gen. J. 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 month 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 point, 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 Staunton, 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 objects 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 brigaded, unless already done so with old troops. I would again ask for Peck's division, and, if possible, Heintzelman's corps. If the enemy gives fight near Winchester it will be a desperate affair, requiring all our resources. I hope that no time will be lost in sending forward the re-enforcements, that I may get them in hand as soon as possible.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, Commanding Army of the Potomac.

-   -   -   -   -

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC
Knoxville, October 11, 1862--9 a.m. (Received 2.30 p.m.)

Major-General HALLECK:

        We have been making every effort to get supplies of clothing for this army, and Colonel Ingalls has received advices that they have been forwarded by railroad, but owing to bad management on the roads, or from some other cause, they come in very slowly, and it will take a much longer time than was anticipated to get articles that are absolutely indispensable to the army unless the railroad managers forward supplies more rapidly.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

-   -   -   -   -

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
October 11, 1862--3.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK:

        I am compelled again to call your attention to the -great deficiency of shoes and other indispensable articles of clothing that still exists in some of the corps of this army. Upon assurances of the chief quartermaster, who based his calculations upon information received from Washington that clothing would be forwarded at certain times, corps commanders sent their wagons to Hagerstown and Harper's Ferry for it. It did not arrive as promised, and has not yet arrived.
        Unless some measures are taken to insure the prompt forwarding of these supplies, there will necessarily be a corresponding delay in getting the army ready to move, as the men cannot march without shoes. Everything has been done that can be done at these headquarters to accomplish the desired result,

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

[Indorsements.]

OCTOBER 12, 1862.

The Quarter-General will please read this and return it.

H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief.

OCTOBER 12, 1862--1 p.m.

        I was informed yesterday that everything called for in the way of clothing from this department, except blankets, had gone forward. There had been some delays for want of cars at this point. As we had not enough blankets and shelter-tents at this point, I ordered by telegraph, a day or two since, 20,000 blankets and a sufficient supply of shelter-tents to be sent direct from New York to Harper's Ferry.
        All the power of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and of the Cumberland Valley Railroad has been used, under the direction of Brigadier-General Haupt, invested by the Secretary with special and full powers to do anything necessary to expedite the forwarding of supplies to the army under General McClellan. It is nearly impossible to supply such an army, having over 30,000 animals to feed, by means [limited] to two railroads. The canal will be repaired and ready for use in a few days. It was hoped that water could have been admitted to it to-day. This, if boats can be found to navigate it, will increase the power of this deportment to forward supplies considerably. I understand, however, that everything called for has gone forward. What has been intercepted and destroyed by the rebel cavalry in rear of the army at Chambersburg and on the railroad I have not yet learned.

Respectfully,
M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster-General.

-   -   -   -   -

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC
October 12, 1862--12.45 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK, General-in- Chief:

        It is absolutely necessary that some energetic measures be taken to supply the cavalry of this army with remount horses. The present rate of supply is 150 [1,050] per week for the entire army here and in front of Washington. From this number the artillery draw for their batteries.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,  
Major-General, Commanding.

-   -   -   -   -

EXECUTIVE MANSION,
Washington, D.C., October 13, 1862.

Major-General MCCLELLAN:

        MY DEAR SIR: You remember my speaking to you of what I called your overcautiousness. Are you not overcautious when you assume that you cannot do what the enemy is constantly doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, and act upon the claim? As I understand, you telegraphed General Halleck that you cannot subsist your army at Winchester unless the railroad from Harper's Ferry to that point be put in working order. But the enemy does now subsist his army at Winchester, at a distance nearly twice as great from railroad transportation as you would have to do, without the railroad last named. He now wagons from Culpeper Court-House, which is just about twice as far as you would have to do from Harper's Ferry. He is certainly not more than half as well provided with wagons as you are. I certainly should be pleased for you to have the advantage of the railroad from Harper's Ferry to Winchester, but it wastes all the remainder of autumn to give it to you, and in fact ignores the question of time, which cannot and must not be ignored. Again, one of the standard maxims of war, as you know, is to "operate upon the enemy's communications as much as possible without exposing your own." You seem to act as if this applies against you, but cannot apply in your favor. Change positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break your communication with Richmond within the next twenty-four hours You dread his going into Pennsylvania, but if he does so in full force, he gives up his communications to you absolutely, and you have nothing to do but to follow and ruin him. If he does so with less than full force, fall upon and beat what is left behind all the easier. Exclusive of the water-line, you are now nearer Richmond than the enemy is by the route that you can and he must take. Why can you not reach there before him, unless you admit that he is more than your equal on a march? His route is the arc of a circle, while yours is the chord. The roads are as good on yours as on his. You know I desired, but did not order, you to cross the Potomac below instead of above the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge. My idea was that this would at once menace the enemy's communications, which I would seize if he would permit.
        If he should move northward I would follow him closely, holding his communications. If he should prevent our seizing his communications and move toward Richmond, I would press closely to him; fight him, if a favorable opportunity should present, and at least try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. I say "try ;" if we never try we shall never succeed. If he makes a stand at Winchester, moving neither north nor south, I would fight him there, on the idea that if we cannot beat him when he bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when we bear the wastage of going to him. This proposition is a simple truth, and is too important to be lost sight of for a moment. In coming to us he tenders us an advantage which we should not waive. We should not so operate as to merely drive him away. As we must beat him somewhere or fail finally, we can do it, if at all, easier near to us than far away. If we cannot beat the enemy where he now is, we never can, he again being within the intrenchments of Richmond.
        Recurring to the idea of going to Richmond on the inside track, the facility of supplying from the side away from the enemy is remarkable, as it were, by the different spokes of a wheel extending from the hub toward the rim, and this, whether you move directly by the chord or on the inside arc, hugging the Blue Ridge more closely. The chord-line, as you see, carries you by Aldie, Hay Market, and Fredericksburg; and you see how turnpikes, railroads, and finally the Potomac, by Aquia Creek, meet you at all points from Washington ;the same, only the lines lengthened a little, if you press closer to the Blue Ridge part of the way.
        The gaps through the Blue Ridge I understand to be about the following distances from Harper's Ferry, to wit: Vestal's, 5 miles; Gregory's, 13; Snicker's, 18; Ashby's, 28; Manassas, 38; Chester, 45; and Thornton's, 53. I should think it preferable to take the route nearest the enemy, disabling him to make an important move without your knowledge, and compelling him to keep his forces together for dread of you. The gaps would enable you to attack if you should wish. For a great ]part of the way you would be practically between the enemy and both Washington and Richmond, enabling us to spare you the greatest number of troops from here. When at length running for Richmond ahead of him enables him to move this way, if he does so, turn and attack him in the rear. But I think he should be engaged long before such point is reached. It is all easy if our troops march as well as the enemy, and it is unmanly to say they cannot do it. This letter is in no sense an order.

Yours, truly,
A. LINCOLN.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 14, 1862.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN Commanding &c.:

        GENERAL: I have caused the matters complained of in your telegrams of the 11th and 12th to be investigated. I am now informed by the Quartermaster-General that every requisition from you for shoes and clothing had been filled and the articles forwarded as directed; that all requisitions for tents and blankets had been filled so far as the stock on hand here could furnish supplies, and that the deficiency was ordered to be immediately made up from Philadelphia and New York. There has been no delay that was not unavoidable.
        In regard to horses, you say that the present rate of supply is only 150 per week for the entire army here and in front of Washington. I find from the records that the issues for the last six weeks have been 8,754, making an average per week of 1,459. I inclose a copy of a letter of the Quartermaster-General, in answer to my inquiry on this subject.
        It is also reported to me that the number of animals with your army in the field is about 31,000. It is believed that your present proportion of cavalry and of animals is much larger than that of any other of our armies.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief.

[Inclosure.]

OCTOBER 14, 1862.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commander-in-Chief, Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C. :

        GENERAL: I find that in the month of September there were issued from this department to the army defending Washington, under command of Major-General McClellan, 4,493 horses; from 1st to 11th October, 3,261 horses; total from this department, 7,754 horses. Colonel Ingalls, by special authority from this department, purchased in Harrisburg 1,000 horses, which were taken direct to the army near Frederick and Sharpsburg, so that for six weeks the issue has been at the rate of 1,459 per week.
        There remained on hand, on the 11th, 497 serviceable horses, which, with what have been daily received since, have been issued before this time.
        During the first days of September 1,500 horses, not included in the above, were sent out toward Centreville to the army of General Pope; 42 of these were lost, and the remainder exchanged for unserviceable stock not included in the above statement.
        There have been issued, therefore, to the army about the Potomac, since the battles in front of Washington, to replace losses, 9,254 horses. For transportation, a very large number of mules has been supplied in addition to the above.
        Is there an instance on record of such a drain and destruction of horses in a country not a desert?
        I was informed by Colonel Ingalls, whose report, though called for, has not yet been received, that the number of animals with the army on the Upper Potomac was over 31,000.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster-General.

 

NEAR HARPER'S FERRY,
October 16, 1862--8.30 a.m. (Received 9.30 a.m.)

His Excellency the PRESIDENT:

        Your letter of the 13th just received from Colonel Perkins. I sent, at daylight this morning, heavy reconnaissances to Charlestown, Leetown, &c. As I hear sharp artillery firing in that direction, I go to the front to see what the truth is. This may delay my reply to your letter, which shall be sent, however, as soon as practicable.
        Have not yet received the shoes, &o., necessary for the men, nor have I any reply from General Halleck in regard to my suggestion as to sending troops from Washington to guard Lower Potomac from Seneca Creek, and thus make Stoneman more available.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, U.S. Army.

-   -   -   -   -

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC
Camp in Pleasant Valley, October 17, 1862.

His Excellency the PRESIDENT:

        SIR: Your letter of the 13th instant reached me yesterday morning by the hands of Colonel Perkins.
        I had sent out strong reconnaissances early in the morning in the direction of Charlestown, Leetown, &c., and as sharp artillery fire was heard, I felt it incumbent to go to the front. I did not leave Charlestown until dark, so that I have been unable to give Your Excellency's letter that full and respectful consideration which it merits at my hands.
        I do not wish to detain Colonel Perkins beyond this morning's train; I therefore think it best to send him back with this simple acknowledgment of the receipt of Your Excellency's letter. I am not wedded to any particular plan of operations. I hope to have to-day reliable information as to the position of the enemy, whom I still believe to be between Bunker Hill and Winchester. I promise you that I will give to your views the fullest and most unprejudiced consideration, and that it is my intention to advance the moment my men are shod and my cavalry are sufficiently renovated to be available.
        Your Excellency may be assured that I will not adopt a course which lifters at all from your views without first fully explaining my reasons, and giving you tame to issue such instructions as may seem best to you.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General, U.S. Army.

-   -   -   -   -

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
October 18, 1862.

Major-General HALLECK,
Commander-in. Chief, Washington, D. C. :

        GENERAL: Your letter of the 14th instant, inclosing a copy of one from the Quartermaster. General, has been received.
        In this letter you say you are informed by the Quartermaster-General that every requisition from me for shoes and clothing has been filled and the articles forwarded as directed. General Meigs may have ordered these articles to be forwarded, but they have not yet reached our depots, and unless greater effort to insure prompt transmission is made by the department of which General Meigs is the head, they might as well remain in New York or Philadelphia, so far as this army is concentrated. I am officially informed by one corps commander that there is a deficiency of 5,000 pairs of shoes in the amount he called for, and other commanders are continually making similar complaints. The soldiers of this army have for some time past been suffering for clothing, and I am constrained to believe it in a great degree owing to the want of proper action on the part of the Quartermaster's Department.
        General Meigs states further that the Army of the Potomac has, since the battles in front of Washington, received 9,254 horses, to replace losses; and, in this connection, inquires most seriously if there is an instance on record of such drain and destruction of horses.
        When I marched this army from Washington, on the 8th day of September, it was greatly deficient in cavalry horses, the hard service to which they had been subjected in front of Washington having rendered about half of them unserviceable. Nearly all the horses that this army has received since then have been to replace those that were broken down at that time, but there has not been anything like the number named by the Quartermaster-General. The following state, meat furnished at my order by Lieutenant-Colonel Myers, assistant, chief quartermaster, gives the actual number of horses received by this army since September 8, 1862:

Horses from Harrisburg  
By Capt J. C. Crane, assistant quartermaster, Frederick  732
By Captain Weeks, assistant quartermaster, Hagerstown  134
   
Horses from Washington  
By Captain Pitkin, assistant quartermaster, Harper's Ferry  201
By Captain Bliss, assistant quartermaster, Harper's Ferry  498
By Capt  J. B.  Howard, assistant quartermaster, headquarters  399
 
Total received  1,964
Number stated by Quartermaster-General  9,254
Difference  7,290

        From this statement it will be seen that the total number of horses received by this army since the commencement of the present campaign is only 1,964--7,290 less than the number given by the Quartermaster-General. Of those delivered very many were totally unfitted for the service, and should never have been received. General Pleasonton, [who] commands a cavalry division, says, in a report made yesterday:

The horses now purchased for cavalry-service are ranch inferior to those first obtained, and are not suitable for the hard service of Cavalry horses.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General, U.S. Army

-   -   -   -   -

QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington City, October 21, 1862.

Maj. Gen. H.W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief Washington, D. C.:

        GENERAL: I have the honor to return the letter of General McClelan of the 18th instant, upon the supply of clothing and of horses to the army under his command.
        General McClellan is constrained to believe that suffering for want of clothing among the soldiers of his command for some time past is in a great degree owing to the want of proper action on the part of the Quartermaster's Department. He remarks that the Quartermaster-general may have ordered the clothing to be forwarded, but that it has not yet reached the depots of his army, and that unless greater efforts to insure prompt transmission are made by this department, the articles might as well remain in New York or Philadelphia, so far as the army under his command is concerned.
        Upon first hearing that there was a deficiency of supply of clothing in that army, I made inquiries of those whose duty it was to attend to this portion of the business of the Quartermaster's Department, and I am assured that all the articles of clothing called for by requisition from General McClellan's headquarters were not only ordered but had been shipped on the 14th of October. This department cannot control the trains upon railroads of which the War Department has not taken the management into its own hands. Messengers were sent over the railroads by Colonel Sawtelle, appointed quartermaster, assistant to the chief quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac, to endeavor to facilitate and hasten the transport of these stores, and Colonel Sawtelle reported to me that not only had they all been shipped but that the messengers could find none of them in transitu, and he concluded that they must have reached the termini of the railroads in Hagerstown, Frederick, or Harper's Ferry, with the exception of 51 boxes of clothing, which it was feared had been captured at Chambersburg by Stuart's cavalry. The railroad companies complain that cars are not unloaded at their destinations, and that their sidings are occupied with cars which are needed for forwarding supplies I presume that the missing articles are in some of these cars, or that they have been unloaded and have not yet reached the particular corps or detachment for which they are intended.
        The Secretary of War gave to General Haupt (and a more capable man is not to be found) an unlimited authority to do whatever was necessary, in his opinion, to insure safe and rapid transit over the railroads supplying the army of General McClellan. He has, at the instance of the Quartermaster-General, within a few days directed General Haupt to take possession of the Cumberland Valley road, against which the greatest complaints are made, and to run it as a United States military railroad route, if on inspection this should appear to be necessary to the public service.
        The fact is that no railroad can provide facilities for unloading cars and transacting the business attending the supply of an army of the size of General McClellan's in a short time or in a contracted space. Sidings, switches, depots, turn-outs do not exist and cannot be laid down at once for such a traffic. I believe that the railroad companies and the officers of the Quartermaster's Department have worked faithfully and zealously, but too much business has been thrown upon these railroads. In addition to the stores transported, they have been called upon to move large bodies of troops, which interfered with the transportation and delivery of stores.
        General Porter informs me that his troops need clothing still. Any deficiency which may be pointed out will be filled if possible.
        General McClellan states that the number of horses received by his army since the commencement of the present campaign is only 1,964, which is several thousands less than reported in my letter of the 14th October to the Secretary of War. The apparent discrepancy is only apparent. That letter was a report made upon seeing a dispatch to you from General McClellan, stating that the arrangements to supply horses were insufficient; that the weekly average issue to the Army of the Potomac, "including that in front of Washington," was only 150, which was not enough to supply waste. That letter stated distinctly that there had been issued to the "army about the Potomac" since the battles in front of Washington 9,254 horses; that of these, 1,500 had been sent out toward Centreville to the army of General Pope.
        The statement which General McClellan compares with this is a statement of the horses received by assistant quartermasters stationed at Frederick, Hagerstown, Harper's Ferry, and at Headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, from the 8th of September to the date of the report, which is only 1,964 horses, 7,290 less than the number given by the Quartermaster-General as issued to the whole army defending Washington from the date of the battles of Bull Run to the 11th of October.
        I have no doubt that both statements are correct. They are not inconsistent. Both depend upon official reports, but reports of very different transactions. One is the whole, the other a part only of the issues.
        Upon General McClellan assuming command of the troops for defense of Washington, he gave orders to the chief quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac to issue no horses except upon his order. I gave instructions to the chief quartermaster of this depot to issue horses only as required by this order, that is, to issue them only upon requisitions approved by General McClellan or by the staff officers representing him. Some 11,000 horses have been thus issued, the only exception authorized by me having been a special issue of 1,000 horses to enable General Banks' cavalry to scout and picket the country in front of Washington at the time Stuart's cavalry raid made this of urgent importance.
        If General McClellan will instruct the officers authorized to approve requisitions in his name to confine this approval to issues to be made on the Upper Potomac, all the horses will be sent there till his wants are fully supplied; but if by his authority or in his name they approve requisitions for the troops in front of Washington, the horses will be issued to these troops under his direction. The whole 11,000 or 12,000 horses would have been sent to Harper's Ferry or Frederick had he so ordered.
        In regard to a falling off in the quality of the horses, I can only say that the horses lately provided have been procured by contracts, and on specifications and inspection identical with those formerly used, excepting that, finding five-year-old horses liable to distemper and disease, officers providing them have generally been instructed to buy no horses under six years of age. The demand for horses has been so great lately that they have been carried off and put to service in many cases before they recovered from the fatigue and exhaustion of transportation from the country by rail.
        The railroads are heavily taxed and transportation, has been delayed. & case is reported in which horses remained fifty hours on the cars with but food or water, were taken out, issued, and put to immediate service. The horses were good when shipped, and a few days' rest and food would have recruited them, but the exigencies of the service, or perhaps carelessness and ignorance, put them to a test which no horses could bear.
        I do not think that the complaint of General Pleasonton has any greater foundation than this. The same system of purchase, the same system of inspection, the same specifications, and a price fixed by public competition of bidders and contractors, as heretofore, ought to procure horses of the same quality as of old. The stock is not yet seriously affected by the war consumption There were 6,000,000 of horses in the United States in 1860.
        As I have learned that General McClellan was of opinion that many horses could be purchased quickly in the country which he now occupies, I have authorized Colonel Ingalls, chief quartermaster of the army under his command, to purchase 2,000 horses in that neighborhood. Several thousands are ordered here from more distant markets.
        General McClellan's letter blames the Quartermaster's Department, of which I am the head. In reply, I have sought only to show that the department has endeavored to supply all the wants of his army, as far as known, and have stated the measures taken for that end, and my opinion, from the investigations made, that the greater part if not all the clothing required is within the lines of his army, and needs only to be distributed by the force under his command.
        The department had the supplies on hand, sent them forward, and will send forward others to replace them if advised of any being lost or captured. There was no intention in my letter of 14th instant to make accusations against any one. The statement made to you that only 150 horses had been issued weekly to the Army of the Potomac, including that in front of Washington, was a mistake which I was obliged to correct when the dispatch was referred to me. It is the duty of this department to provide for the wants of the army, and it is my desire to do so efficiently, promptly, and abundantly.
        I regret that any officer in high command should think that the department under my direction has failed to do its whole duty; but, while I cannot admit that he is right in this opinion, I shall gladly avail myself of any suggestions which he or you may have to offer tending to improve the efficiency of the department and promote that of the army which so much depends upon it.
        There should be no controversy or misunderstanding between the generals and this department, and there shall be none if I can prevent it. Whether the efforts of the department are recognized or not, they will be continued.
        The letter of General McClellan is returned herewith.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster-General

OCTOBER 22, 1862----2 p.m.

        P. S.--Since writing the above, I have seen a telegraphic requisition, received to-day from headquarters, for a large quantity of clothing, shoes, shelter-tents, &c. Most of the articles called for will be supplied immediately from this depot; the rest I order by telegraph from Philadelphia and New York, directing special agents to be sent with each' shipment

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster- General.

-   -   -   -   -

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
October 24, 1862--10 p.m. (Received October 24, 1862.)

General M. C. MEIGS, Quartermaster-General:

        Your dispatch is received. On the 21st instant 20,000 pairs of bootees arrived at the Harper's Ferry depot. Over 7,000 pairs are now on hand, but are sizes higher than No. 9. I asked that the extraordinary sizes should not be sent; they are utterly useless. No bootees have arrived since. More than 30,000 pairs have been received altogether, and over 10,000 pairs are on the way here.
        The clothing has uniformly arrived slowly. That ordered to Hagerstown on the 7th did not arrive until long after Stuart's last raid. It is not detained in cars at the depots. Such complaints are groundless. The fact is, the clothing arrives and is issued, but more is still wanted. I have ordered more than would seem necessary from any data furnished me, and I beg to remind you that you have always very promptly met all my requisitions. So far as clothing is concerned, our department is not at fault, and it provides as soon as due notice is given.
        I foresee no time when an army of over 100,000 men will not call for clothing and other articles.

RUFUS INGALLS,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Aide-de. Camp, &c.

[Indorsement.]

OCTOBER 25, 1862---11.45 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK:

        As directed by the Secretary of War, I have ascertained the date of the receipt at Harper's Ferry of the 12,000 bootees about which Colonel Ingalls telegraphed. He reports that they reached Harper's Ferry depot on the 21st October; that over 30,000 pairs have been received, and that over 10,000 pairs are on the way there; 116,000 were on hand in Washington 18th October; 25,000 came that week. The complaint in regard to large-sized shoes is heard at this office for the first time this year to-day. Last year the same complaint was made, and orders were given to prevent the difficulty. The volunteer army appears to use smaller shoes than the old regular army, by whose experience the distribution of sizes has been regulated.

Respectfully,
M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster- General.

-   -   -   -   -

WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington City, October 25, 1862.

Brigadier-General MEIGS, Quartermaster. General:

        GENERAL: It has been publicly alleged that the army under the command of General McClellan has been unable to move for want of shoes and other supplies which it is the duty of the Quartermaster's Department to furnish. You will please report whether there has been any failure or neglect to furnish shoes or other supplies to that army or meet promptly any requisition for its supply upon your department.

Yours, truly,
EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

(Similar letter to the Commissary. General of Subsistence.)

-----

QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington City, October 25, 1862.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

        SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this date, stating that it has been publicly alleged that the army under General McClellan has been unable to move for want of shoes and other supplies which it is the duty of the Quartermaster's Department to furnish, and directing me to report whether there has been any failure or neglect to furnish shoes or other supplies to that army or to meet promptly any requisitions for its supply upon this department. Every requisition for shoes, clothing, and such supplies approved at General McClellan's headquarters has been promptly met, and the goods have been forwarded by rail, mostly from this depot, with all possible speed.
        Lately special agents have been sent with every shipment to prevent delay upon the route. The greater part of the supplies were, when called for, on hand in this depot. Such as were not here have been ordered by telegraph from the Philadelphia and New York depots and forwarded.
        The requisitions have been very large. Ten days ago I was assured that every such requisition had been filled and forwarded. Within the last two days, however, new and large requisitions have been received, which are being shipped as rapidly as possible.
        The supply of clothing, shoes, and other stores to an army of such size must be continuous, like that of a great city whose population it equals in number. Were every man well shod and clothed to.day, many would be in want to-morrow.
        The department has not been able instantly to fill all requisitions for horses. These requisitions have far exceeded any estimate. Over 13,000 horses have been issued to the army on the Potomac River since the 1st of September. The demand continues, and the daily issues are still very large.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster-General.

-   -   -   -   -

QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington City, October 25, 1862.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief Washington, D. C.:

        GENERAL: As directed by the Secretary of War, I have ascertained the date of the receipt at Harper's Ferry of the 12,000 bootees about which Colonel Ingalls telegraphed. He reports that they reached Harper's Ferry depot on the 21st October, on which day 20,000 pairs were received; that about 48,000 pairs of boots and shoes had been received at that place, Frederick, and Hagerstown altogether; that l0,000 pairs are now on the way and 15,000 more ordered. On the 18th of October there were 116,000 pairs on hand in the Washington depot, though 25,000 pairs had been issued in the week ending that day.
        The complaint in regard to a surplus of large-sized shoes is heard today at this office for the first time this year. Last year the same complaint was made, and orders were given which removed the difficulty. The volunteer army appears to use smaller shoes than the old regular army, by whose experience the distribution of sizes has been regulated.
        Copies of two dispatches from Colonel Ingalls on the subject are inclosed.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient service,
    M.C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster-General

 

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC)
October 24, 1862---10 p.m.
(Received October 24, 1862.)

General M. G. MEIGS, Quartermaster-General:

        Your dispatch is received. On the 21st instant 12,000 pairs of bootees arrived at the Harper's Ferry depot. Over 7,000 pairs are low on hand) but are sizes higher thanNo. 9. I asked that extraordinary sizes should not be sent; they are utterly useless. No bootees have arrived since. More than 30,000 pairs have been received altogether, and over 10,000 pairs are on the way here.
        The clothing has uniformly arrived slowly. That ordered to Hagerstown on the 7th did not arrive until long after Stuart's last raid. It is not detained in cars at the depots. Such complaints are groundless. The fact is the clothing arrives and is issues, but more is still wanted. I have ordered more than would seem necessary from any data furnished me, and I beg to remind you that you have always very promptly met all my requisitions. So far as clothing is concerned, our department is not at fault; it provides as soon as due notice is given.
        I foresee no time when an army of over 100,000 men will not call for clothing and other articles.

RUFUS INGALLS,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

-   -   -   -   -

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC)
October 25, 1862.--1.30 p.m.
(Received October 25, 1862--1.45 p.m.)

General MEIGS:

        In my dispatch of last night I should have written 20,000 instead of 12,000 bootees received on 21st, instant at Harper's Ferry. At the three depots Harper's Ferry, Frederick, and Hagerstown, there have been received about 40,000 pairs bootees and 8,000 pairs of boots altogether. Some 10,000 more are in transitu and 15,000 additional ordered. Clothing will come forward as rapidly as it can be transported and issued.
        By mail will send detailed statement. The amounts ordered would seem ample. Of course clothing will be, wanted all the time: and can be provided even on the march.
        The suffering for want of clothing is exaggerated, I think, and certainly might have been avoided by timely requisitions of regimental and brigade commanders.

RUFUS INGALLS,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp, Chief Quartermaster.

-   -   -   -   -

OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF SUBSISTENCE
Washington City, October 25, 1862.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

        SIR: In reply to yours of this date, I have the honor to state that, so far as is known to this office, there has been no failure nor neglect of the Subsistence Department to furnish subsistence for the army under command of General McClellan, and that all requisitions for its subsistence on this department have been promptly met.

With great respect, your most obedient servant,
A. E. SHIRAS,

Major, Acting Commissary- General of Subsistence.

This page last updated 09/08/02

RETURN TO ANTIETAM OFFICIAL RECORDS PAGE