Report of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, U. S. Army,
commanding the Army of the Potomac (Part 3)

THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VIRGINIA
March 17-September 2, 1862.
No. 1.--Report of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, U. S. Army, commanding Army of the Potomac.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XI/1 [S# 12]

NEW YORK, August 4, 1863.

        SIR: I have the honor to submit herein the official report of the operations of the Army of the Potomac while under my charge. Accompanying it are the reports of the corps, division, and subordinate commanders pertaining to the various engagements, battles, and occurrences of the campaigns, and important documents connected with its organization, supply, and movements. These, with lists of maps and memoranda submitted, will be found appended, duly arranged, and marked for convenient reference:

* * * * * * * * * *

SECOND PERIOD.

CHAPTER I.

        The council composed of the four corps commanders, organized by the President of the United States, at its meeting on the 13th of March, adopted Fort Monroe as the base of operations for the movement of the Army of the Potomac upon Richmond. For the prompt and successful execution of the projected operation it was regarded by all as necessary that the whole of the four corps should be employed, with at least the addition of 10,000 men drawn from the forces in the vicinity of Fortress Monroe; that position and its dependencies being regarded as amply protected by the naval force in its neighborhood and the advance of the main army up the Peninsula, so that it could be safely left with a small garrison.
        In addition to the land forces, the co-operation of the Navy was desired in the projected attack upon the batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester, as well as in controlling the York and James Rivers, for the protection of our flanks and the use of the transports bringing supplies to the army. With these expectations, and for reasons stated elsewhere in this report, my original plan of moving by Urbana and West Point was abandoned, and the line with Fort Monroe as a base adopted. In the arrangements for the transportation of the army to the Peninsula by water the vessels were originally ordered to rendezvous mainly at Annapolis; but upon the evacuation of Manassas and the batteries of the Lower Potomac by the enemy it became more convenient to embark the troops and material at Alexandria, and orders to that effect were at once given.
        In making the preliminary arrangements for the movement it was determined that the First Corps, General McDowell's, should move as a unit first, and effect a landing either at the Sand-box, some 4 miles south of Yorktown, in order to turn all the enemy s defenses at Ship Point, Howard's Bridge, Big Bethel, &c., or else, should existing circumstances render it preferable, land on the Gloucester side of York River and move on West Point.
        The transports, however, arrived slowly and few at a time. In order, therefore, to expedite matters I decided to embark the army by divisions as transports arrived, keeping army corps together as much as possible, and to collect the troops at Fort Monroe. In determining the order of embarkation convenience and expedition were especially con-suited, except that the First Corps was to be embarked last, as I intended to move it in mass to its point of disembarkation, and to land it on either bank of the York, as might then be determined.
        On the 17th of March Hamilton's division, of the Third Corps, embarked at Alexandria, and proceeded to Fort Monroe with the following orders:

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 17, 1862.

General C. S. HAMILTON,
Commanding Division.

        You will, on your arrival at Fort Monroe, report to General Wool, and request him to assign you ground for encamping your division. You will remain at Fort Monroe until further orders from General McClellan. Should General Wool require the services of your division in repelling an attack, you will obey his orders and use every effort to carry out his views.

R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff.

        On the 22d of March, as soon as transportation was ready, General Fitz John Porter's division, of the same corps, embarked. General Heintzelman was ordered to accompany it, under the following instructions:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Seminary, March 22, 1862.

Brig. Gen. S. P. HEINTZELMAN,
Commanding Third Corps.

        GENERAL: Upon the disembarkation of Porter's division at Fort Monroe I have to request that you will move your two divisions (Porter's and Hamilton's) some 3 or 4 miles out from the fort, to find good camping places, where wood and water can be readily obtained, and where your positions will be good in a defensive point of view. You may find it advisable to place one division on or near the road leading to Yorktown from Newport News; the other upon that leading to Yorktown direct from Fort Monroe. If you find that the nature of the country will permit easy communication and mutual support between the two divisions it will be best to place one on each road. It will be best to remain pretty near the fort for the present, in order to give the impression that our object is to attack Norfolk rather than Yorktown. You will do well, however, to push strong reconnaissances well to the front, to ascertain the position of the enemy and his pickets. I will, as soon as possible, re-enforce you by the third division of your corps, and it is probable that a part or the whole of the Fourth Corps will also move from Fort Monroe. This will probably be determined before your disembarkation is completed, and you will be informed accordingly.
        My desire would be to make no important move in advance until we are fully prepared to follow it up and give the enemy no time to recover.
        The quartermaster of your corps will receive detailed instructions in regard to land transportation from General Van Vliet.
        It will be advisable to mobilize your corps with the least possible delay and have it prepared for an advance. I have directed extra clothing, ammunition, &c., to be sent to Fort Monroe, so that all deficiencies may be supplied without delay.
        Please report to me frequently and fully the condition of things on the new field of operations and whatever intelligence you gain as to the enemy.
        Engage guides in sufficient numbers at once, and endeavor to send out spies.

I am, very truly, yours,
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

        The remaining divisions embarked as rapidly as transports could be supplied.
        On the 1st of April I embarked with the headquarters on the steamer Commodore, and reached Fort Monroe on the afternoon of the 2d.
        In consequence of the delay in the arrival of the horse transports at Alexandria but a small portion of the cavalry had arrived, and the artillery reserve had not yet completed its disembarkation.
        I found there the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry and the Fifth Regular Cavalry. The Second Regular Cavalry and a portion of the First had arrived, but not disembarked. So few wagons had arrived that it was not possible to move Casey's division at all for several days, while the other divisions were obliged to move with scant supplies.
        As to the force and position of the enemy, the information then in our possession was vague and untrustworthy. Much of it was obtained from the staff officers of General Wool, and was simply to the effect that Yorktown was surrounded by a continuous line of earthworks, with strong water batteries on the York River, and garrisoned by not less than 15,000 troops, under command of General J.B. Magruder. Maps, which had been prepared by the topographical engineers under General Wool's command, were furnished me, in which the Warwick River was represented as flowing parallel to but not crossing the road from Newport News to Williamsburg, making the so-called Mulberry Island a real island; and we had no information as to the true course of the Warwick across the Peninsula nor of the formidable line of works which it covered.
        Information which I had collected during the winter placed General Magruder's command at from 15,000 to 20,000 men, independently of General Huger's force at Norfolk, estimated at about 15,000.
        It was also known that there were strong defensive works at or near Williamsburg.
        Knowing that General Huger could easily spare some troops to reenforce Yorktown--that he had, indeed, done so--and that Johnston's army of Manassas could be brought rapidly by the James and York Rivers to the same point, I proposed to invest that town without delay.
        The accompanying map of Colonel Cram, U.S. Topographical Engineers, attached to General Wool's staff, given to me as the result of several months' labor, indicated the feasibility of the design. It was also an object of primary importance to reach the vicinity of Yorktown before the enemy was re-enforced sufficiently to enable him to hold in force his works at Big Bethel, Howard's Bridge, Ship Point, &c., on the direct road to Yorktown and Young's Mill, on the road from Newport News. This was the more urgent, as it was now evident that some days must elapse before the First Corps could arrive.
        Everything possible was done to hasten the disembarkation of the cavalry, artillery, and wagons in the harbor; and on the 3d the orders of march were given for the following day.
        There were at Fort Monroe and in its vicinity on the 3d, ready to move, two divisions of the Third Corps, two divisions of the Fourth Corps, and one division of the Second Corps, and Sykes' brigade of regular infantry, together with Hunt's artillery reserve and the regiments of cavalry before named--in all about 58,000 men and 100 guns, besides the division artillery.
        Richardson's and Hooker's divisions of the Second and Third Corps had not arrived, and Casey's division of the Fourth Corps was unable to move for want of wagons.
        Before I left Washington an order had been issued by the War Department placing Fort Monroe and its dependencies under my control, and authorizing me to draw from the troops under General Wool a division of about 10,000 men, which was to be assigned to the First Corps.
        During the night of the 3d I received a telegram from the Adjutant-General of the Army stating that by the President's order I was deprived of all control over General Wool and the troops under his command and forbidden to detach any of his troops without his sanction. This order left me without any base of operations under my own control, and to this day I am ignorant of the causes which led to it.
        On my arrival at Fort Monroe the James River was declared by the naval authorities closed to the operations of their vessels by the combined influence of the enemy's batteries on its banks and the Confederate steamers Merrimac, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Teazer. Flag-Officer Goldsborough, then in command of the United States squadron in Hampton Roads, regarded it (and no doubt justly) as his highest and most imperative duty to watch and neutralize the Merrimac, and as he designed using his most powerful vessels in a contest with her, he did not feel able to detach to the assistance of the army a suitable force to attack the water batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester. All this was contrary to what had been previously stated to me and materially affected my plans. At no time during the operations against Yorktown was the Navy prepared to lend us any material assistance in its reduction until after our land batteries had partially silenced the works.
        I had hoped, let me say, by rapid movements to drive before me or capture the enemy on the Peninsula, open the James River, and press on to Richmond before he should be materially re-enforced from other portions of his territory. As the narrative proceeds the causes will be developed which frustrated these apparently well-grounded expectations.
        I determined, then, to move the two divisions of the Fourth Corps by the Newport News and Williamsburg roads to take up a position between Yorktown and Williamsburg, while the two divisions of the Third Corps moved direct from Fort Monroe upon Yorktown, the reserves moving so as to support either corps, as might prove necessary. I designed, should the works at Yorktown and Williamsburg offer a serious resistance, to land the First Corps, re-enforced, if necessary, on the left bank of the York or on the Severn, to move it on Gloucester and West Point, in order to take in reverse whatever force the enemy might have on the Peninsula, and compel him to abandon his positions.
        In the commencement of the movement from Fort Monroe serious difficulties were encountered from the want of precise topographical information as to the country, in advance. Correct local maps were not to be found, and the country, though known in its general features, we found to be inaccurately described in essential particulars in the only maps and geographical memoirs or papers to which access could be had. Erroneous courses to streams and roads were frequently given, and no dependence could be placed on the information thus derived. This difficulty has been found to exist with respect to most portions of the State of Virginia through which my military operations have extended. Reconnaissances, frequently under fire, proved the only trustworthy sources of information. Negroes, however truthful their reports, possessed or were able to communicate very little accurate and no comprehensive topographical information.
        On the 3d the following orders were given for the movement of the 4th:

        Porter's and Hamilton's divisions and Averell's cavalry, of the Third Corps, and Sedgwick's division, of the Second Corps, under Brigadier-General Heintzelman, commanding Third Corps, will move to-morrow in the following order: Porter's division, with Averell's cavalry, at 6 a.m., over the New Market and New Bridges to Big Bethel and Howard's Bridge. This division will send forward to the batteries where the Ship Point road intersects the main Yorktown road a sufficient force to hold that point and cut off the garrison of the Ship Point batteries. The whole division may be used for this purpose if necessary, and if possible the batteries should be occupied by our troops to-morrow. The portion of the division not necessary for this purpose will encamp at Howard's Bridge.
        Hamilton's division will march at 7 a.m. by the New Bridge road to Big Bethel, and will encamp on Howard's Creek.
        Sedgwick's division will march at 8 a.m. by the New Market Bridge, taking the direct road to Big Bethel, and will also encamp at Howard's Bridge.
        Brigadier-General Keyes, commanding Fourth Corps, will move with Smith's and Couch's divisions at 6 a.m. (Smith's division in advance) by the James River road. The Fifth Regular Cavalry, temporarily assigned to this corps, will move with Smith's division, which will encamp at Young's Mill, throwing forward at least one brigade to the road from Big Bethel to Warwick. Couch's division will encamp at Fisher's Creek.
        The reserve cavalry, artillery, and infantry will move at 8.30 a.m. by the New Market Bridge to Big Bethel, where it will encamp. On the march it will keep in rear of Sedgwick's division.

        The following is an extract from the order issued on the 4th for the march of the 5th:

        The following movements of the army will be carried out to-morrow (5th):
        General Keyes will move forward Smith's division at 6 a.m., via Warwick Court-House and the road leading near the old ship-yard, to the "Half-way House," on the Yorktown and Williamsburg road.
        General Couch's division will march at 6 a.m. to close up on General Smith's division at, the "Half-way House."
        General Keyes' command will occupy and hold the narrow dividing ridge near the "Half-way House, so as to prevent the escape of the garrison at Yorktown by land and prevent re-enforcements being thrown in.
        General Heintzelman will move forward General Porter's two rear brigades at 6 a.m. upon the advance guard, when the entire division will advance to a point about 2 3/4 miles from Yorktown, where the road turns abruptly to the north and where a road comes in from Warwick Court-House.
        General Hamilton's division will move at 6 a.m., and follow General Porter's division, camping as near it as possible.
        General Sedgwick's division will march at 5 a.m. as far as the Warwick road, which enters the main Yorktown road near Dr. Powers' house, and will await further orders.
        The reserve will march at 6 a.m. upon the main Yorktown road, halting for further orders at Dr. Powers' house, the infantry leading, the artillery following next, and the cavalry in rear.
        General Sedgwick's division will for the present act with the reserve, and he will receive orders from headquarters.

        In giving these orders of march for the 4th and 5th it was expected that there would be no serious opposition at Big Bethel, and that the advance of the Third Corps beyond that point would force the enemy to evacuate the works at Young's Mill, while our possession of the latter would make it necessary for him to abandon those at Howard's Bridge, and the advance thence on Yorktown would place Ship Point in our possession, together with its garrison, unless they abandoned it promptly. The result answered the expectation.
        During the afternoon of the 4th General Keyes obtained information of the presence of some 5,000 to 8,000 of the enemy in a strong position at Lee's Mill. The nature of that position in relation to the Warwick not being at that time understood, I instructed General Keyes to attack and carry this position upon coming in front of it.
        Early in the afternoon of the 5th the advance of each column was brought to a halt; that of Heintzelman (Porter's division), in front of Yorktown, after overcoming some resistance at Big Bethel and Howard's Bridge ; that of Keyes (Smith's division) unexpectedly before the enemy's works at Lee's Mill, Where the road from Newport News to Williamsburg crosses Warwick River.
        The progress of each column had been retarded by heavy rains on that day, which had made the roads almost impassable to the infantry of Keyes' column and impassable to all but a small portion of the artillery, while the ammunition, provisions, and forage could not be brought up at all.
        When General Keyes approached Lee's Mill his left flank was exposed to a sharp artillery fire from the farther bank of the Warwick, and upon reaching the vicinity of the mill he found it altogether stronger than was expected, unapproachable by reason of the Warwick River and incapable of being carried by assault.
        The troops composing the advance of each column were during the afternoon under a warm artillery fire, the sharpshooters even of the right column being engaged when covering reconnaissances.
        It was at this stage and moment of the campaign that the following telegram was sent to me:

ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
April 4, 1862.

General McCLELLAN:

        By direction of the President, General M. Dowell's army corps has been detached from the force under your immediate command, and the general is ordered to report to the Secretary of War. Letter by mail.

L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General.

        The President having promised, in an interview following his order of March 31, withdrawing Blenker's division of 10,000 men from my command, that nothing of the sort should be repeated--that I might rest assured that the campaign should proceed with no further deductions from the force upon which its operations had been planned--I may confess to having been shocked at this order, which, with that of the 31st ultimo and that of the 3d, removed nearly 60,000 men from my command, and reduced my force by more than one-third after its task had been assigned, its operations planned, its fighting begun. To me the blow was most discouraging. It frustrated all my plans for impending operations. It fell when I was too deeply committed to withdraw. It left me incapable of continuing operations which had been begun. It compelled the adoption of another, a different, and a less effective plan of campaign. It made rapid and brilliant operations impossible. It was a fatal error.
        It was now, of course, out of my power to turn Yorktown by West Point. I had therefore no choice left but to attack it directly in front, as I best could with the force at my command.
        Reconnaissances made under fire on that and the following day determined that the sources of the Warwick River were near Yorktown, commanded by its guns, while that stream, for some distance from its mouth on the James River, was controlled by the Confederate gunboats; that the fords had been destroyed by dams, the approaches to which were generally through dense forests and deep swamps, and defended by extensive and formidable works; that timber felled for defensive purposes and the flooding of the roads, caused by the dams, had made these works apparently inaccessible and impossible to turn that Yorktown was strongly fortified, armed, and garrisoned, and connected with the defenses of the Warwick by forts and intrenchments, the ground in front of which was swept by the guns of Yorktown. It was also ascertained that the garrisons had been and were daily being re-enforced by troops from Norfolk and the army under General J. E. Johnston. Heavy rains made the roads to Fort Monroe impassable, and delayed the arrival of troops, ammunition, and supplies, while storms prevented for several days the sailing of transports from Hampton Roads and the establishment of depots on the creeks of York River near the army.
        The ground bordering the Warwick River is covered by very dense and extensive forests, the clearings being small and few. This, with the comparative flatness of the country and the alertness of the enemy, everywhere in force, rendered thorough reconnaissances slow, dangerous, and difficult; yet it was impossible otherwise to determine whether an assault was anywhere practicable or whether the more tedious but sure operations of a siege must be resorted to.
        I made on the 6th and 7th close personal reconnaissances of the right and left of the enemy's positions, which, with information acquired already, convinced me that it was best to prepare for an assault by the preliminary employment of heavy guns and some siege operations. Instant assault would have been simple folly. On the 7th I telegraphed to the President as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
April 7, 1862.

To the PRESIDENT,
Washington, D.C.

        Your telegram of yesterday is received. In reply I have the honor to state that my entire force for duty amounts to only about 85,000 men. General Wool's command, as you will observe from the accompanying order, has been taken out of my control, although he has most cheerfully cooperated with me. The only use that can be made of his command is to protect my communications in rear of this point. At this time only 53,000 men have joined me, but they are coming up as rapidly as my means of transportation will permit.
        Please refer to my dispatch to the Secretary of War to-night for the details of our present situation.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General

        On the same day I sent the following:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
In Front of Yorktown, April 7, 1862--7 p.m.

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

        Your telegram of yesterday arrived here while I was absent examining the enemy's right, which I did pretty closely.
        The whole line of the Warwick, which really heads within a mile of Yorktown, is strongly defended by detached redoubts and other fortifications, armed with heavy and light guns. The approaches, except at Yorktown, are covered by the Warwick, over which there is but one, or, at most, two passages, both of which are covered by strong batteries. It will be necessary to resort to the use of heavy guns and some siege operations before we assault. All the prisoners state that General J. E. Johnston arrived at Yorktown yesterday with strong re-enforcements. It seems clear that I shall have the whole force of the enemy on my hands-probably not less than 100,000 men, and probably more. In consequence of the loss of Blenker's division and the First Corps my force is possibly less than that of the enemy, while they have all the advantage of position.
        I am under great obligations to you for the offer that the whole force and material of the Government will be as fully and as speedily under my command as heretofore or as if the new departments had not been created.
        Since my arrangements were made for this campaign at least 50,000 men have been taken from my command. Since my dispatch of the 5th instant five divisions have been in close observation of the enemy, and frequently exchanging shots. When my present command all join I shall have about 85,000 men for duty, from which a large force must be taken for guards, scouts, &c. With this army I could assault the enemy's works, and perhaps carry them, but were I in possession of their intrenchments and assailed by double my numbers I should have no fears as to the result.
        Under the circumstances that have been developed since we arrived here I feel fully impressed with the conviction that here is to be fought the great battle that is to decide the existing contest. I shall of course commence the attack as soon as I can get up my siege train, and shall do all in my power to carry the enemy's works; but to do this with a reasonable degree of certainty requires, in my judgment, that I should, if possible, have at least the whole of the First Corps to land upon the Severn River, and attack Gloucester in the rear. My present strength will not admit of a detachment sufficient for this purpose without materially impairing the efficiency of this column. Flag-Officer Goldsborough thinks the works too strong for his available vessels unless I can turn Gloucester.
        I send by mail copies of his letter and one of the commander of the gunboats here.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        I had provided a small siege train and moderate supplies of intrenching tools for such a contingency as the present. Immediate steps were taken to secure the necessary additions. While the engineer officers were engaged in ascertaining the character and strength of all the defenses and the configuration of the ground in front of Yorktown in order to determine the point of attack and to develop the approaches, the troops were occupied in opening roads to the depots established at the nearest available points on branches of York River. Troops were brought to the front as rapidly as possible, and on the 10th of April the army was posted as follows:
        Heintzelman's corps, composed of Porter's, Hooker's, and Hamilton's divisions, in front of Yorktown, extending in the order named from the mouth of Wormley's Creek to the Warwick road opposite Wynn's Mill; Sumner's corps---Sedgwick's division only having arrived--on the left of Hamilton, extending down to Warwick and opposite to Wynn's Mill works; Keyes' corps (Smith's, Couch's, and Casey's divisions), on the left of Sedgwick, facing the works at the one-gun battery, Lee's Mill, &c., on the west bank of the Warwick.
        Sumner, after the 6th of April, commanded the left wing, composed of his own and Keyes' corps.
        Throughout the preparations for and during the siege of Yorktown I kept the corps under General Keyes, and afterward the left wing, under General Sumner, engaged in ascertaining the character of the obstacles presented by the Warwick, and the enemy intrenched on the right bank, with the intention, if possible, of overcoming them and breaking that line of defense, so as to gain possession of the road to Williamsburg and cut off Yorktown from its supports and supplies. The forces under General Heintzelman were engaged in similar efforts upon the works between Wynn's Mill and Yorktown. General Keyes' report of the 16th of April, inclosing reports of brigade commanders engaged in reconnaissances up to that day, said "that no part of his (the enemy's line opposite his own)line, so far as discovered, can be taken by assault without an enormous waste of life."
        Reconnaissances on the right flank demonstrated the fact that the Warwick was not passable in that direction except over a narrow dam, the approaches to which were swept by several batteries and intrenchments, which could be filled quickly with supports sheltered by the timber immediately in rear.
        General Barnard, chief engineer of the Army of the Potomac, whose position entitled his opinions to the highest consideration, expressed the judgment that those formidable works could not with any reasonable degree of certainty be carried by assault. General Keyes, commanding Fourth Army Corps, after the examination of the enemy's defenses on the left, before alluded to, addressed the following letter to the Hon. Ira Harris, United States Senate, and gave me a copy. Although not strictly official, it describes the situation at that time in some respects so well that I have taken the liberty of introducing it here:

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH CORPS,
Warwick Court-House, Va., April 7, 1862.

Hon. IRA HARRIS,
United States Senate.

        MY DEAR SENATOR: The plan of campaign on this line was made with the distinct understanding that four army corps should be employed, and that the Navy should co-operate in the taking of Yorktown, and also (as I understood it) support us on our left by moving gunboats up James River.
        To-day I have learned that the First Corps, which by the President's order was to embrace four divisions and one division (Blenker's) of the Second Corps, have been withdrawn altogether from this line of operations and from the Army of the Potomac. At the same time, as I am informed, the Navy has not the means to attack Yorktown, and is afraid to send gunboats up James River for fear of the Merrimac.
        The above plan of campaign was adopted unanimously by Major-General McDowell and Brigadier-Generals Sumner, Heintzelman, and Keyes, and was concurred in by Major-General McClellan, who first proposed Urbana as our base.
        This army being reduced by 45,000 troops, some of them among the best in the service, and without the support of the Navy, the plan to which we are reduced bears scarcely any resemblance to the one I voted for.
        I command the James River column, and I left my camp near Newport News the morning of the 4th instant. I only succeeded in getting my artillery ashore the afternoon of the day before, and one of my divisions had not all arrived in camp the day I left, and for the want of transportation has not yet joined me. So you will observe that not a day was lost in the advance, and in fact we marched so quickly and so rapidly, that many of our animals were twenty-four and forty-eight hours without a ration of forage. But, notwithstanding the rapidity of our advance, we were stopped by a line of defense 9 or 10 miles long, strongly fortified by breastworks erected nearly the whole distance behind a stream or succession of ponds, nowhere fordable, one terminus being Yorktown and the other ending in the James River, which is commanded by the enemy's gunboats. Yorktown is fortified all around with bastioned works, and on the water side it and Gloucester are so strong that the Navy are afraid to attack either.
        The approaches on one side are generally through low, swampy, or thickly-wooded ground, over roads which we are obliged to repair or to make before we can get forward our carriages. The enemy is in great force, and is constantly receiving re-enforcements from the two rivers. The line in front of us is therefore one of the strongest ever opposed to an invading force in any country.
        You will then ask why I advocated such a line for our operations. My reasons are few, but I think good.
        With proper assistance from the Navy we could take Yorktown, and then, with gunboats on both rivers, we could beat any force opposed to us on Warwick River, because the shot and shell from the gunboats would nearly overlap across the Peninsula; so that if the enemy should retreat--and retreat he must-he would have a long way to go without rail or steam transportation, and every soul of his army must fall into our hands or be destroyed. Another reason for my supporting the new base and plan was that this line, it was expected, would furnish water transportation nearly to Richmond.
        Now, supposing we succeed in breaking through the line in front of us, what can we do next? The roads are very bad, and if the enemy retains command of James River and we do not first reduce Yorktown it would be impossible for us to subsist this army three marches beyond where it is now. As the roads are at present it is with the utmost difficulty that we can subsist it in the position it now occupies.
        You will see, therefore, by what I have said that the force originally intended for the capture of Richmond should be all sent forward. If I thought the four army corps necessary when I supposed the Navy would co-operate, and when I judged of the obstacles to be encountered by what I learned from maps and the opinions of officers long stationed at Fort Monroe and from all other sources, how much more should I think the full complement of troops requisite now that the Navy cannot co-operate, and now that the strength of the enemy's lines and the number of his guns and men prove to be almost immeasurably greater than I had been led to expect. The line in front of us, in the opinion of all the military men here who are at all competent to judge, is one of the strongest in the world, and the force of the enemy capable of being increased beyond the numbers we now have to oppose to him. Independently of the strength of the lines in front of us and of the force of the enemy behind them, we cannot advance until we get command of either York River or James River. The efficient co-operation of the Navy is therefore absolutely essential, and so I considered it when I voted to change our base from the Potomac to Fort Monroe.
        An iron-clad boat must attack Yorktown, and if several strong gunboats could be sent up James River also our success will be certain and complete and the rebellion will soon be put down.
        On the other hand, we must butt against the enemy's works with heavy artillery, and a great waste of time, life, and material.
        If we break through and advance, both our flanks will be assailed from two great water-courses in the hands of the enemy; our supplies would give out; and the enemy, equal, if not superior, in numbers, would, with the other advantages, beat and destroy this army.
        The greatest master of the art of war has said "that if you would invade a country successfully, you must have one line of operations and one army under one general." But what is our condition! The State of Virginia is made to constitute the command, in part or wholly, of some six generals, viz: Frémont, Banks, McDowell, Wool, Burnside, and McClellan, besides the scrap over the Chesapeake in the care of Dix.
        The great battle of the war is to come off here. If we win it, the rebellion will be crushed; if we lose it, the consequences will be more horrible than I care to tell. The plan of campaign I voted for, if carried out with the means proposed, will certainly succeed. If any part of the means proposed are withheld or diverted, I deem it due to myself to say that our success will be uncertain.
        It is no doubt agreeable to the commander of the First Corps to have a separate department, and as this letter advocates his return to General McClellan's command, it is proper to state that I am not at all influenced by personal regard or dislike to any of my seniors in rank. If I were to credit all the opinions which have been poured into my ears, I must believe that in regard to my present fine command I owe much to General McDowell and nothing to General McClellan. But I have disregarded all such officiousness, and I have from last July to the present day supported General McClellan and obeyed all his orders with as hearty a good-will as though he had been my brother or the friend to whom I owed most. I shall continue to do so to the last and so long as he is my commander; and I am not desirous to displace him, and would not if I could. He left Washington with the understanding that he was to execute a definite plan of campaign with certain prescribed means. The plan was good and the means sufficient, and without modification the enterprise was certain of success. But with the reduction of force and means the plan is entirely changed, and is now a bad plan, with means insufficient for certain success.
        Do not look upon this communication as the offspring of despondency. I never despond, and when you see me working the hardest you may be sure that fortune is frowning upon me. I am working now to my utmost.
        Please show this letter to the President, and I should like also that Mr. Stanton should know its contents.
        Do me the honor to write to me as soon as you can, and believe me, with perfect respect, your most obedient servant,

E. D. KEYES,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Fourth Army Corps.

        On the 7th of April, and before the arrival of the divisions of Generals Hooker, Richardson, and Casey, I received the following dispatches from the President and Secretary of War:

WASHINGTON, April 6, 1862--8 p.m.

General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN:

        Yours of 11 a.m. to-day received. Secretary of War informs me that the forwarding of transportation, ammunition, and Woodbury's brigade, under your orders, is not, and will not, be interfered with. You now have over 100,000 troops with you, independent of General Wool's command. I think you better break the enemy's line from Yorktown to Warwick River at once. This will probably use time as advantageously as you can.

A. LINCOLN,
President.

WASHINGTON, April 6,1862---2 p.m.

General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN:

        The President directs me to say that your dispatch to him has been received. General Sumner's corps is on the road to join you and will go forward as fast as possible.
        Franklin's division is now on the advance toward Manassas. There is no means of transportation here to send it forward in time to be of service in your present operations. Telegraph frequently, and all in the power of the Government shall be done to sustain you as occasion may require.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

        By the 9th of April I had acquired a pretty good knowledge of the position and strength of the enemy's works and the obstacles to be overcome. On that day I received the following letter from the President:

WASHINGTON, April 9, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        MY DEAR SIR: Your dispatches complaining that you are not properly sustained, while they do not offend me, do pain me very much. Blenker's division was withdrawn from you before you left here, and you know the pressure under which I did it, and, as I thought, acquiesced in it--certainly not without reluctance.
        After you left I ascertained that less than 20,000 unorganized men, without a single field battery, were all you designed to be left for the defense of Washington and Manassas Junction, and part of this even was to go to General Hooker's old position.
        General Banks' corps, once designed for Manassas Junction, was diverted and tied up on the line of Winchester and Strasburg, and could not leave it without again exposing the Upper Potomac and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This presented, or would present when McDowell and Sumner should be gone, a great temptation to the enemy to turn back from the Rappahannock and sack Washington. My explicit order that Washington should, by the judgment of all the commanders of army corps, be left entirely secure, had been neglected. It was precisely this that drove me to detain McDowell.
        I do not forget that I was satisfied with your arrangement to leave Banks at Manassas Junction; but when that arrangement was broken up and nothing was substituted for it, of course I was constrained to substitute something for it myself. And allow me to ask, do you really think I should permit the line from Richmond via Manassas Junction to this city to be entirely open except what resistance could be presented by less than 20,000 unorganized troops? This is a question which the country will not allow me to evade.
        There is a curious mystery about the number of troops now with you. When I telegraphed you on the 6th, saying you had over 100,000 with you, I had just obtained from the Secretary of War a statement, taken, as he said, from your own returns, making 108,000 then with you and en route to you. You now say you will have but 85,000 when all en route to you shall have reached you. How can the discrepancy of 23,000 be accounted for?
        As to General Wool's command, I understand it is doing for you precisely what s like number of your own would have to do if that command was away. I suppose the whole force which has gone forward for you is with you by this time, and, if so, I think it is the precise time for you to strike a blow. By delay the enemy will relatively gain upon you--that is, he will gain faster by fortifications and re-enforcements than you can by re-enforcements alone. And once more let me tell you it is indispensable to you that you strike a blow. I am powerless to help this. You will do me the justice to remember I always insisted that going down the bay in search of a field, instead of fighting at or near Manassas, was only shifting and not surmounting a difficulty; that we would find the same enemy and the same or equal intrenchments at either place. The country will not fail to note, is now noting, that the present hesitation to move upon an intrenched enemy is but the story of Manassas repeated. I beg to assure you that I have never written you or spoken to you in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller purpose to sustain you, so far as, in my most anxious judgment, I consistently can. But you must act.

Yours, very truly,
A. LINCOLN.

        With great deference to the opinions and wishes of His Excellency the President, I most respectfully beg leave to refer to the facts which I have presented and those contained in the accompanying letter of General Keyes, with the reports of General Barnard and other officers, as furnishing a reply to the above letter. His Excellency could not judge of the formidable character of the works before us as well as if he had been on the ground; and whatever might have been his desire for prompt action (certainly no greater than mine), I feel confident if he could have made a personal inspection of the enemy's defenses he would have forbidden me risking the safety of the army and the possible successes of the campaign on a sanguinary assault of an advantageous and formidable position, which, even if successful, could not have been followed up to any other or better result than would have been reached by the regular operations of a siege. Still less could I forego the conclusions of my most instructed judgment for the mere sake of avoiding the personal consequences intimated in the President's dispatch.
        The following extracts from the report of the chief engineer (Brig. Gen. J. G. Barnard) embody the result of our reconnaissances, and give with some degree of detail the character and strength of the defenses of Yorktown and the Warwick and some of the obstacles which the army contended against and overcame:

Extracts from General Barnard's report.

        The accompanying drawing (map No. 2) gives with accuracy the outline and armament of the fortifications of Yorktown proper, with the detached works immediately connected with it.
        The three bastioned fronts looking toward our approaches appear to have been earliest built, and have about 15 feet thickness of parapet and 8 feet to 10 feet depth of ditch, the width varying much, but never being less at top of scarp than 15 feet--I think generally much more.
        The works extending around the town from the western salient of fronts just mentioned appeared to have been finished during the past winter and spring. They have formidable profiles, 18 feet thickness of parapet and generally 10 feet depth of ditch. The water batteries had generally 18 feet parapet; the guns in barbette. They were (as well as all the works mentioned) carefully constructed, with well-made sod revetments.
        There were numerous traverses between the guns, and ample magazines; how sufficient in bomb-proof qualities I am unable to say. The two first guns of the work on the heights bear upon the water as well as the land, and were of heavy caliber. The list herewith gives all the guns in position or for which there were emplacements. The vacant emplacements were all occupied before the evacuation by siege guns, rifled 4 1/2-inch 24-pounders and 18-pounders.
        In Fort Magruder (the first exterior work) there were found one 8-inch columbiad, one 42-pounder, and one 8-inch siege howitzer, the two former in barbette. The sketch will show the emplacements for guns on field and siege carriages, making, I think, with the foregoing, twenty-two. Two of these were placed behind traverses, with embrasures covered by blindages. The two external redoubts, with the connecting parapets, formed a re-entrant with the fronts of attack, and all the guns bore on our approaches.
        It will be seen, therefore, that our approaches were swept by the fire of at least forty-nine guns, nearly all of which were heavy, and many of them the most formidable guns known. Besides that, two-thirds of the guns of the water batteries and all the guns of Gloucester bore on our right batteries, though under disadvantageous circumstances.
        The ravine behind which the left of the Yorktown fronts of attack was placed was not very difficult, as the heads formed depressions in front of their left, imperfectly seen by their fire, and from which access could be had to the ditches; but we could not be sure of this fact before the evacuation. The enemy held, by means of a slight breastwork and rifle trenches, a position in advance of the heads of these ravines as far forward as the burned house. The ravines which head between the Yorktown fortifications and the exterior works are deep and intricate. They were tolerably well seen, however, by the works which run westwardly from the Yorktown works, and which were too numerous and complicated to be traced on paper.
        Fort Magruder, the first lunette on our left, appears to have been built at an early period. The external connection between this work was first a rifle trench, probably afterwards enlarged into a parapet, with external ditch and an emplacement for four guns in or near the small redan in the center. Behind this they had constructed numerous epaulements, with connecting boyaus not fully arranged for infantry fires, and mainly intended, probably, to protect their camps and reserves against the destructive effects of our artillery. From the "red redoubt" these trenches and epaulements ran to the woods and rivulet which forms one head of the Warwick, and continue almost without break to connect with the works at Wynn's Mill. This stream just mentioned, whatever be its name (the term "Warwick" according to some, applying only to the tidal channel from the James River up as high as Lee's Mill), was inundated by a number of dams from near where its head is crossed by the epaulements mentioned down to Lee's Mill.
        Below Lee's Mill the Warwick follows a tortuous course through salt marshes of 200 years or 300 yards in width, from which the land rises up boldly to a height of 30 or 40 feet.
        The first group of works is at Wynn's Mill, where there is a dam and bridge. The next is to guard another dam between Wynn's and Lee's Mills. (This is the point attacked by General Smith on the 16th ultimo, and where Lieutenant Merrill was wounded. The object of the attack was merely to prevent the further construction of works and feel the strength of the position.) A work, of what extent is not now known, was at the sharp angle of the stream just above Lee's Mill, and a formidable group of works was at Lee's Mill, where there was also a dam and bridge. From Lee's Mill a line of works extends across Mulberry Island, or is supposed to do so. At Southall's Landing is another formidable group of works, and from here, too, they extend apparently across to the James River. These groups of field works were connected by rifle trenches or parapets for nearly the whole distance. They are far more extensive than may be supposed from the mention of them I make, and every kind of obstruction which the country affords, such as abatis, marsh, inundation, &c., was skillfully used. The line is certainly one of the most extensive known to modern times.
        The country on both sides of the Warwick, from near Yorktown down, is a dense forest, with few clearings. It was swampy, and the roads impassable during the heavy rains we have constantly had, except where our own labors had corduroyed them.
        If we could have broken the enemy's line across the isthmus we could have invested Yorktown, and it must, with its garrison, have soon fallen into our hands. It was not deemed practicable, considering the strength of that line and the difficulty of handling our forces (owing to the impracticable character of the country), to do so.
        If we could take Yorktown or drive the enemy out of that place the enemy's line was no longer tenable. This we could do by siege operations. It was deemed too hazardous to attempt the reduction of the place by assault.

        The plan of the approaches and their defenses, as determined upon and finally executed, is exhibited on the accompanying map. It was, in words, to open the first parallel as near as possible to the works of the enemy, and under its protection to establish almost simultaneously batteries along the whole front, extending from York River on the right to the Warwick on the left, a chord of about 1 mile in length. The principal approaches were directed against the east end of the main work, which was most heavily armed, and bore both on the water and land, and lay between Wormley's Creek and York River. There, also, were placed the most of the batteries designed to act against the land front, to enfilade the water batteries and to act upon Gloucester.
        I designed at the earliest moment to open simultaneously with several batteries, and as soon as the enemy's guns which swept the neck of land between Wormley's Creek and the Warwick were crippled and their fire kept down, to push the trenches as far forward as necessary and to assault Yorktown and the adjacent works.
        The approaches to the batteries, the necessary bridges, and the roads to the depots had been vigorously pushed to completion by the troops under Generals Heintzelman and Sumner, and were available for infantry, and in some instances for artillery, on the 17th of April, when the batteries and their connections were commenced and labor upon them kept up night and day until finished. Some of the batteries on easy ground and concealed from the view of the enemy were early completed and armed and held ready for any emergency, but not permitted to open, as the return fire of the enemy would interfere too much with the labor on other and more important works. The completion of the more exposed and heaviest batteries was delayed by storms, preventing the landing of guns and ammunition.
        It having been discovered that the enemy were receiving artillery stores at the wharf in Yorktown, on May 1 Battery No. 1 was opened with effect upon the wharf and town.
        On the 22d of April General Franklin, with his division from General McDowell's corps, had arrived and reported to me. The garrison of Gloucester Point had been re-enforced and the works strengthened; but as this division was too small to detach to the Severn and no more troops could be spared, I determined to act on Gloucester, by disembarking it on the north bank of the York River, under the protection of the gunboats. The troops were mainly kept on board ship while the necessary preparations were made for landing them and supporting them in case of necessity. For a full account of this labor I refer to the report of Lieut. Col. B. S. Alexander, of the Engineer Corps, detailed for this expedition.
        While the siege works were being rapidly completed, the roads on the left wing necessary for communication and advance were opened and corduroyed over the marshes, batteries were erected to silence the enemy's guns and drive him from his works at Wynn's and Lee's Mills, preparatory to the general attack. Active reconnaissances were continually going on and attempts in force made to drive the enemy from the banks.
        The result of various reconnaissances, made under the immediate direction of General W. F. Smith, commanding Second Division, Fourth Corps, led to the belief that the weakest point of that part of the enemy's lines was opposite a field where it was ascertained that there was a dam covered by a battery known to contain at least one gun.
        It was determined to push a strong reconnaissance on this point, to silence the enemy's fire, and ascertain the actual strength of the position. Being prepared to sustain the reconnoitering party by a real attack, if found expedient, General W. F. Smith was directed to undertake the operation on the 16th of April. He silenced the fire of the enemy's guns, discovered the existence of other works previously concealed and unknown, and sent a strong party across the stream, which was finally forced to retire with some loss. Smith intrenched himself in a position immediately overlooking the dam and the enemy's works, so as to keep them under control and prevent the enemy from using the dam as a means of crossing the Warwick to annoy us.
        Many times toward the end of the month the enemy attempted to drive in our pickets and take our rifle pits near Yorktown, but always without success.
        As the siege progressed it was with great difficulty that the rifle pits on the right could be excavated and held, so little covering could be made against the hot fire of the enemy's artillery and infantry. Their guns continued firing up to a late hour of the night of the 3d of May.
        Our batteries would have been really to open on the morning of the 6th May at latest; but on the morning of the 4th it was discovered that the enemy had already been compelled to evacuate his position during the night, leaving behind him all his heavy guns, uninjured, and a large amount of ammunition and supplies. For the details of the labors of the siege I refer to the accompanying reports and journals of Brig. Gen. J. G. Barnard, chief engineer, charged with the selection, laying out, and completion of the approaches and batteries; of Brig. Gen. William F. Barry, chief of artillery, charged with arming and supplying with ammunition all the siege and field batteries; and of Brig Gen. Fitz John Porter, director of the siege, to whom was assigned the guarding of the trenches, the assembling and distribution of the working parties, &c.
        Early in the morning of the 4th, upon the enemy's abandoning his lines at Yorktown, I ordered all the available cavalry force, with four batteries of horse artillery, under Brigadier-General Stoneman, chief of cavalry, in immediate pursuit, by the Yorktown and Williamsburg road, with orders to harass the enemy's rear and try to cut off such of his forces as had taken the Lee's Mill and Williamsburg road.
        General Heintzelman was directed to send Hooker's division forward on the Yorktown and Williamsburg road to support General Stoneman, and Smith was ordered to proceed with his division on the Lee's Mill and Williamsburg road for the same purpose. Afterward the divisions of Generals Kearny, Couch, and Casey were put en route, the first on the Yorktown road and the others on the Lee's Mill road. These roads unite about a quarter of a mile south of Fort Magruder, and are connected by cross roads at several points between Yorktown and Williamsburg. After these directions had been given General Sumner (the officer second in rank in the Army of the Potomac) was ordered to proceed to the front and take immediate charge of operations until my arrival.
        General Stoneman moved forward promptly with his command, consisting off our batteries of horse artillery, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hays, the First and Sixth United States Cavalry, the Third Pennsylvania, and Eighth Illinois, and Barker's squadron, meeting with but little opposition until he arrived in front of the enemy's works about 2 miles east of Williamsburg.
        At a point about 8 miles from Yorktown, in accordance with my instructions, he detached General Emory, with Benson's battery, the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry (Colonel Averell), and Barker's squadron to gain the Lee's Mill road, and endeavor, with the assistance of General Smith, to cut off the portion of the enemy's rear guard which had taken that route. General Emory had some sharp skirmishes with a regiment of cavalry and a battery under General Stuart, and drove them in the direction of Lee's Mill.
        General Smith, having met with obstructions in his front, had transferred his column by a cross road to the Yorktown and Williamsburg road, so that General Emory, finding no force to co-operate with him, was unable to cut off the rear guard, and they succeeded in escaping by a circuitous route along the bank of the James River.
        The position in which General Stoneman encountered the enemy is about 4 miles in extent, the right resting on College Creek and the left on Queen's Creek, nearly three-fourths of its front being covered by tributaries of these two creeks, upon which there are ponds.
        The ground between the heads of the boundary streams is a cultivated plain, across which a line of detached works had been constructed, consisting of Fort Magruder, a large work in the center with a bastion front, and twelve other redoubts and epaulements for field guns.
        The parapet of Fort Magruder is about 6 feet high and 9 feet thick, the ditch 9 feet wide and 9 feet deep, filled with water. The length of the interior crest is about 600 yards. The redoubts have strong profiles, but are of small dimensions, having faces of about 40 yards. The woods in front of the position were felled and the open ground in front of the works was dotted with numerous rifle pits.
        The roads leading from the lower part of the Peninsula to Williamsburg--one along the York River (the Yorktown road) and the other along the James (the Lee's Mill road)--unite between the heads of the tributary streams a short distance in front of Fort Magruder, by which they are commanded, and debouch from the woods just before uniting. A branch from the James River road leaves it about 1 3/4 miles below Fort Magruder, and unites with the road from Allen's Landing to Williamsburg, which crosses the tributary of College Creek over a dam at the outlet of a pond and passes just in rear of the line of works, being commanded by the three redoubts on the right of the line. At about the same distance from Fort Magruder a branch leaves the York River road and crosses the tributary of Queen's Creek on a dam, and passing over the position and through the works in its rear finally enters Williamsburg. This road is commanded by redoubts on the left of the line of the works.
        General Stoneman debouched from the woods with his advance guard (consisting of a part of the First U.S. Cavalry and one section of Gibson's battery, under the command of General Cooke), and the enemy immediately opened on him with several field pieces from Fort Magruder, having the correct range, and doing some execution. Gibson's battery was brought into position as rapidly as the deep mud would permit and returned the fire, while the Sixth U.S. Cavalry was sent to feel the enemy's left. This regiment passed one redoubt, which it found unoccupied, and appeared in the rear of a second, when a strong cavalry force, with infantry and artillery, came down upon it; whereupon the regiment was withdrawn. The rear squadron, under command of Captain Sanders, repelled a charge of the enemy's cavalry in the most gallant manner. In the mean time the enemy was being re-enforced by infantry, and the artillery fire becoming very hot, General Stoneman, having no infantry to carry the works, ordered the withdrawal of the battery. This was accomplished, with the exception of one piece, which could not be extricated from the mud. The enemy attempted to prevent the movement, but their charges were met by the First U.S. Cavalry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Grier, and they were driven back, losing several officers and one stand of colors. General Stoneman then took up a defensive position a short distance in the rear of the first, to await the arrival of the infantry.
        The advance of General Smith's column reached Skiff Creek about 11.30 o'clock, and found the bridge over that stream in flames and the road impassable. A practicable route to the Yorktown road having been discovered, the division, by order of General Sumner, moved on by that road, and reached General Stoneman's position about 5.30 o'clock. General Sumner, arriving with it, assumed command.
        Generals Heintzelman and Keyes also arrived. During the afternoon of the 4th, near the Half-way House, the head of General Hooker's column encountered Smith's division filing into the road, and was obliged to halt between three and four hours until it had passed. General Hooker then followed on, and at Cheesecake Church turned off, by General Heintzelman's direction, taking a cross road, and moved out on the Lee's Mill road, thus changing places with General Smith. Marching part of the night, he came in sight of Fort Magruder early in the morning of the 5th.
        General Smith's division having been deployed, General Sumner ordered an attack on the works in his front; but the lines having been thrown into confusion while moving through the dense forest and darkness coming on, the attempt for that night was abandoned. The troops bivouacked in the woods, and a heavy rain began, which continued until the morning of the 6th, making the roads, already in very bad condition, almost impassable.
        During the morning of the 5th General Sumner reconnoitered the position in his front, and at 11 o'clock ordered Hancock's brigade, of Smith's division, to take possession of a work on the enemy's left, which had been found to be unoccupied. The remainder of Smith's division occupied the woods in front without being actually engaged.
        The divisions of Couch and Casey had received orders during the night to march at daylight, but on account of the terrible condition of the roads and other impediments were not able to reach the field until after 1 o'clock p.m., at which time the first brigade of Couch's division arrived, and was posted in the center, on Hooker's right. The other two brigades came up during the afternoon, followed by Casey's division.
        In the mean time General Hooker, having reconnoitered the enemy's position, began the attack at 7.30 a.m., and for a while silenced the guns of Fort Magruder and cleared the ground in his front; but the enemy being continually re-enforced, until their strength greatly exceeded his, made attack after attack, endeavoring to turn his left.
        For several hours his division struggled gallantly against the superior numbers of the enemy. Five guns of Webber's battery were lost, and between 3 and 4 o'clock his ammunition began to give out. The loss had been heavy and the exhaustion of the troops was very great. At this time the division of General Kearny came up, who at 9 a.m. had received orders to re-enforce Hooker, and who had succeeded by the greatest exertions in passing Casey's troops and pushing on to the front through the deep mud. General Kearny at once gallantly attacked and thereby prevented the loss of another battery, and drove the enemy back at every point, enabling General Hooker to extricate himself from his position and withdraw his wearied troops. Peck's brigade, of Couch's division, as has been mentioned before, was immediately on its arrival ordered by General Sumner to deploy on Hooker's right. This was promptly done, and the attacks of the enemy at that point were repulsed. General Peck held his position until late in the afternoon, when he was relieved by the other two brigades of Couch's division, and they were in quiet possession of the ground, when night closed the contest. The vigorous action of these troops relieved General Hooker considerably. General Emory had been left with his command on the night of the 4th to guard the branch of the Lee's Mill road which leads to Allen's farm, and on the morning of the 5th it was ascertained that by this route the enemy's right could be turned. A request for infantry for this purpose was made to General Heintzelman, who late in the afternoon sent four regiments and two batteries of Kearny's division--the first disposable troops he had--and directed General Emory to make the attack. With these re-enforcements his force amounted to about 3,000 men and three batteries. General Emory, on account of want of knowledge of the ground and the lateness of the hour, did not succeed in this movement. It involved some risks, but if successful might have produced important results.
        At 11 a.m., as before mentioned, General Smith received orders from General Sumner to send one brigade across a dam on our right, to occupy a redoubt on the left of the enemy's line. Hancock's brigade was selected for this purpose. He crossed the dam, took possession of the first redoubt, and afterward finding the second one vacated he occupied that also, and sent for re-enforcements to enable him to advance farther and take the next redoubt, which commanded the plain between his position and Fort Magruder, and would have enabled him to take in reverse and cut the communication of the troops engaged with Generals Hooker and Kearny.
        The enemy soon began to show himself in strength before him, and as his rear and right flank were somewhat exposed, he repeated his request for re-enforcements. General Smith was twice ordered to join him with the rest of his division, but each time the order was countermanded at the moment of execution, General Sumner not being willing to weaken the center. At length, in reply to General Hancock's repeated messages for more troops, General Sumner sent him an order to fall back to his first position, the execution of which General Hancock deferred as long as possible, being unwilling to give up the advantage already gained and fearing to expose his command by such a movement.
        During the progress of these events I had remained at Yorktown to complete the preparations for the departure of General Franklin's and other troops to West Point by water and to make the necessary arrangements with the naval commander for his co-operation.
        By pushing General Franklin, well supported by water, to the right bank of the Pamunkey, opposite West Point, it was hoped to force the enemy to abandon whatever works he might have on the Peninsula below that point or be cut off. It was of paramount importance that the arrangements to this end should be promptly made at an early hour of the morning. I had sent two of my aides (Lieutenant-Colonel Sweitzer and Major Hammerstein) to observe the operations in front, with instructions to report to me everything of importance that might occur. I received no information from them leading me to suppose that there was anything occurring of more importance than a simple affair of a rear guard until about 1 p.m., when a dispatch arrived from one of them that everything was not progressing favorably. This was confirmed a few minutes later by the reports of Governor Sprague and Major Hammerstein, who came directly from the scene of action.
        Completing the necessary arrangements, I returned to my camp without delay, rode rapidly to the front, a distance of some 14 miles, through roads much obstructed by troops and wagons, and reached the field between 4 and 5 p.m., in time to take a rapid survey of the ground. I soon learned that there was no direct communication between our center and the left, under General Heintzelman. The center was chiefly in the nearer edge of the woods, situated between us and the enemy. As heavy firing was heard in the direction of General Hancock's command, I immediately ordered General Smith to proceed with his two remaining brigades to support that part of the line. General Naglee, with his brigade, received similar orders. I then directed our center to advance to the farther edge of the woods mentioned above, which was done, and I attempted to open direct communication with General Heintzelman, but was prevented by the marshy state of the ground in the direction in which the attempt was made.
        Before Generals Smith and Naglee could reach the field of General Hancock's operations, although they moved with great rapidity, he had been confronted by a superior force. Feigning to retreat slowly, he awaited their onset and then turned upon them, and after some terrific volleys of musketry he charged them with the bayonet, routing and dispersing their whole force, killing, wounding, and capturing from 500 to 600 men; he himself losing only 31 men. This was one of the most brilliant engagements of the war, and General Hancock merits the highest praise for the soldierly qualifies displayed and his perfect appreciation of the vital importance of his position.
        Night put an end to the operations here, and all the troops who had been engaged in this contest slept on the muddy field, without shelter and many without food.
        Notwithstanding the report I received from General Heintzelman during the night that General Hooker's division had suffered so much that it could not be relied upon next day and that Kearny's could not do more than hold its own without re-enforcements, being satisfied that the result of Hancock's engagement was to give us possession of the decisive point of the battle-field, during the night I countermanded the order for the advance of the divisions of Sedgwick and Richardson, and directed them to return to Yorktown, to proceed to West Point by water.
        Our loss during the day, the greater part of which was sustained by Hooker's division, was as follows: Killed, 456; wounded, 1,400; missing, 372. Total, 2,228.
        On the next morning we found the enemy's position abandoned, and occupied Fort Magruder and the town of Williamsburg, which was filled with the enemy's wounded, to whose assistance eighteen of their surgeons were sent by General J. E. Johnston, the officer in command. Several guns and caissons, which the enemy could not carry off on account of the mud, were secured. Colonel Averell was sent forward at once with a strong cavalry force to endeavor to overtake the enemy's rear guard. He found several guns abandoned and picked up a large number of stragglers, but the condition of the roads and the state of his supplies forced him to return after advancing a few miles.
        It is my opinion that the enemy opposed us here with only a portion of his army. When our cavalry first appeared there was nothing but the enemy's rear guard in Williamsburg. Other troops were brought back during the night and the next day to hold the works as long as possible, in order to gain time for the trains, &c., already well on their way to Richmond, to make their escape. Our troops were greatly exhausted by the laborious march through the mud from their positions in front of Yorktown and by the protracted battle through which they had just passed. Many of them were out of rations and ammunition, and one division, in its anxiety to make a prompt movement, had marched with empty haversacks. The supply trains had been forced out of the roads on the 4th and 5th to allow the troops and artillery to pass to the front, and the roads were now in such a state, after thirty-six hours' continuous rain, that it was almost impossible to pass even empty wagons over them. General Hooker's division had suffered so severely that it was in no condition to follow the enemy, even if the roads had been good. Under these circumstances an immediate pursuit was impossible.
        Steps were at once taken to care for and remove the wounded, and to bring up provisions, ammunition, and forage.
        The condition of the roads, as has been said, rendered it next to impossible to accomplish this by land from Yorktown. A temporary depot was therefore promptly established on Queen's Creek, and supplies drawn, and the wounded shipped from that place.
        The divisions of Franklin, Sedgwick, Porter, and Richardson were sent from Yorktown by water to the right bank of the Pamunkey, in the vicinity of West Point. The remaining divisions, the trains, and the reserve artillery moved subsequently by land.
        Early on the morning of the 7th General Franklin had completed the disembarkation of his division, and had placed it in a good position to cover the landing place, both his flanks and a large portion of the front being protected by water.
        Dana's brigade, of Sedgwick's division, arrived during the morning. At about 9 a.m. a large force of the enemy appeared, consisting of Whiting's division and other troops, and between 10 and 11 they attacked the part of the line held by Newton's brigade. The action continued until 3 p.m., when the enemy retired, all his attacks having been repulsed. This affair, the most important in which the division had yet been engaged, was highly creditable to General Franklin and his command. For the details I refer to his report, which is herewith submitted. Our loss was 49 killed, 104 wounded, and 41 missing. Total, 194, which includes a large proportion of officers.
        Cavalry reconnaissances were sent out from Williamsburg on the 6th and 7th, and on the 8th General Stoneman moved with an advance guard of cavalry, artillery, and infantry to open communication with General Franklin.
        As soon as our supplies had been received and the condition of the roads had become a little better, though still very bad, the advance of the remaining troops was begun, Smith's division moving on the 8th. On the 10th headquarters were at Roper's Church. 19 miles from Williamsburg, all the divisions which had moved by land, except Hooker's, being in the vicinity of that place.
        We were now in direct communication with the portion of the army which had gone by water, and we began to draw supplies from Eltham.
        On account of the small number and narrowness of the roads in this neighborhood movements were difficult and slow.
        On the 15th headquarters and the divisions of Franklin, Porter, Sykes, and Smith reached Cumberland, which was made a temporary depot. Couch and Casey were then near New Kent Court-House, Hooker and Kearny near Roper's Church, and Richardson and Sedgwick near Eltham.
        On the 14th and 15th much rain fell.
        On the 15th and 16th the divisions of Franklin, Smith, and Porter were with great difficulty moved to White House, 5 miles in advance. So bad was the road that the train of one of these divisions required thirty-six hours to pass over this short distance. General Stoneman had occupied this place some days before, after several successful skirmishes, in which our cavalry proved superior to that of the enemy. The reports of these affairs are appended.
        About this time, with the consent of the President, two additional corps were organized, viz, the Fifth Provisional Corps, consisting of the divisions of Porter and Sykes and the reserve artillery, under the command of General F. J. Porter, and the Sixth Provisional Corps, consisting of the divisions of Franklin and Smith, under the command of General W. B. Franklin.
        Headquarters reached White House on the 16th, and a permanent depot was at once organized there.
        On the 19th headquarters and the corps of Porter and Franklin moved to Tunstall's Station, 5 miles from White House.
        On the 20th more rain fell.
        On the 21st the position of the troops was as follows: Stoneman's advance guard 1 mile from New Bridge', Franklin's corps 3 miles from New Bridge, with Porter's corps at supporting distance in its rear; Sumner's corps on the railroad, about 3 miles from the Chickahominy: connecting the right with the left; Keyes' corps on New Kent road, near Bottom's Bridge, with Heintzelman's corps at supporting distance in the rear.
        The ford at Bottom's Bridge was in our possession, and the rebuilding of the bridge, which had been destroyed by the enemy, was commenced. On the 22d headquarters moved to Cold Harbor.
        On the 26th the railroad was in operation as far as the Chickahominy, and the railroad bridge across that stream nearly completed.

CHAPTER II.

        When, on the 20th of May, our advanced light troops reached the banks of the Chickahominy River at Bottom's Bridge, they found that this, as well as the railroad bridge about a mile above, had been destroyed by the enemy. The Chickahominy in this vicinity is about 40 feet wide, fringed with a dense growth of heavy forest trees, and bordered by low, marshy bottom-lands, varying from haft a mile to a mile in width.
        Our operations embraced that part of the river between Bottom's and Meadow Bridges, which covered the principal approaches to Richmond from the east. Within these limits the firm ground lying above high-water mark seldom approaches near the river on either bank, and no locality was found within this section where the high ground came near the stream on both sides. It was subject to frequent, sudden, and great variations in the volume of water, and a rise of a few feet over-flowed the bottom-lands on both sides. At low water it could be forded at almost any point, but during high water it rose above a fording stage, and could then be crossed only at the few points where bridges had been constructed. These bridges had all been destroyed by the enemy on our approach, and it was necessary not only to reconstruct these, but to build several others.
        The west bank of the river opposite the New and Mechanicsville Bridges was bordered by elevated bluffs, which afforded the enemy commanding positions to fortify, establish his batteries, enfilading the approaches upon the two principal roads to Richmond on our right, and resist the reconstruction of the important bridges. This obliged us to select other less exposed points for our crossings.
        As the enemy was not in great force opposite Bottom's Bridge on the arrival of our left at that point, and as it was important to secure a lodgment upon the right bank before he should have time to concentrate his forces and contest the passage, I forthwith ordered Casey's division to ford the river and occupy the opposite heights. This was promptly done on the 20th, and reconnaissances were at once pushed out in advance.
        These troops were directed to throw up defenses in an advantageous position to secure our left flank. General Heintzelman's corps was thrown forward in support, and Bottom's Bridge immediately rebuilt.
        In the mean time our center and right were advanced to the river above, and on the 24th we carried the village of Mechanicsville, driving the enemy out with our artillery, and forcing them across the bridge, which they destroyed. General Naglee, on the same day, dislodged a force of the enemy from the vicinity of the "Seven Pines," on the Bottom's Bridge road, and our advance on the left secured a strong position near that place.
        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 for 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:

CAMP AT EWELL'S FARM,
Three miles beyond Williamsburg, May 10, 1862--5 a.m.

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

        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 near the Chickahominy. They can 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 it 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 weigh 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.

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

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

CAMP AT CUMBERLAND, May 14, 1862.

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President of the United States.

        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 of their military officers, among whom there may be said to be no Union feeling, as there is also very little among the higher class of citizens in the seceding States.
        I have found no fighting men left in this Peninsula. All are in the ranks of the opposing foe.
        Even if more troops than I now have should prove unnecessary for purposes of military occupation, our greatest display of imposing force in the capital of the rebel Government will have the best moral effect. I most respectfully and earnestly urge upon Your Excellency that the opportunity has come for striking a fatal blow at the enemies of the Constitution, and I beg that you will cause this army to he re-enforced without delay by all the disposable troops of the Government. I ask for every man that the War Department can send me [by water]. Any commander of the re-enforcements whom Your Excellency may designate will be acceptable to me, whatever expression I may have heretofore addressed to you on that subject.
        I will fight the enemy, whatever their force may be, with whatever force I may have, and I firmly believe that we shall beat them, but our triumph should be made decisive and complete. The soldiers of this army love their Government and will fight well in its support. You may rely upon them. They have confidence in me as their general and in you as their President. Strong re-enforcements will at least save the lives of many of them. The greater our force, the more perfect will be our combinations and the less our loss.
        For obvious reasons I beg you to give immediate consideration to this communication, and to inform me fully at the earliest moment of your final determination.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        To which, on the 18th of May, I received this reply:

WASHINGTON, May 18 [17]--2 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Commanding Army of the Potomac, before Richmond.

        GENERAL: Your dispatch to the President asking re-enforcements has been received and carefully considered.
        The President is not willing to uncover the capital entirely, and it is believed that even if this were prudent, it would require more time to effect a junction between your army and that of the Rappahannock by the way of the Potomac and York Rivers than by a land march. In order, therefore, to increase the strength of the attack upon Richmond at the earliest moment General McDowell has been ordered to march upon that city by the shortest route. He is ordered--keeping himself always in position to save the capital from all possible attack--so to operate as to put his left wing in communication with your right wing, and you are instructed to co-operate, so as to establish this communication as soon as possible, by extending your right wing to the north of Richmond. It is believed that this communication can be safely established either north or south of the Pamunkey River. In any event you will be able to prevent the main body of the enemy's forces from leaving Richmond and falling in overwhelming force upon General McDowell. He will move with between 35,000 and 40,000 men.
        A copy of the instructions to General McDowell are with this. The specific task assigned to his command has been to provide against any danger to the capital of the nation.
        At your earnest call for re-enforcements he is sent forward to co-operate in the reduction of Richmond, but charged, in attempting this, not to uncover the city of Washington; and you will give no order, either before or after your junction, which can put him out of position to cover this city. You and he will communicate with each other by telegraph or otherwise as frequently as may be necessary for sufficient co-operation. When General McDowell is in position on your right his supplies must be drawn from West Point, and you will instruct your staff officers to be prepared to supply him by that route.
        The President desires that General McDowell retain the command of the Department of the Rappahannock and of the forces with which he moves forward.

By order of the President:
EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War

        It will be observed that this order rendered it impossible for me to use the James River as a line of operations, and forced me to establish our depots on the Pamunkey and to approach Richmond from the north.
        I had advised and preferred that re-enforcements should be sent by water, for the reasons that their arrival would be more safe and certain, and that I would be left free to rest the army on the James River whenever the navigation of that stream should be opened.
        The land movement obliged me to expose my right in order to secure the junction, and as the order for General McDowell's march was soon countermanded, I incurred great risk, of which the enemy finally took advantage, and frustrated the plan of campaign. Had General McDowell joined me by water I could have approached Richmond by the James, and thus avoided the delays and losses incurred in bridging the Chickahominy, and would have had the army massed in one body, instead of being necessarily divided by that stream.
        The following is a copy of the instructions to General McDowell:

WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington, May 17, 1862.

General McDOWELL,
Commanding Department of the Rappahannock.

        GENERAL: Upon being joined by General Shields' division, you will move upon Richmond by the general route of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, cooperating with the forces under General McClellan now threatening Richmond from the line of the Pamunkey and York Rivers.
        While seeking to establish as soon as possible a communication between your left wing and the right wing of General McClellan, you will hold yourself always in such position as to cover the capital of the nation against a sudden dash of any large body of the rebel forces.
        General McClellan will be furnished with a copy of these instructions, and will be directed to hold himself in readiness to establish communication with your left wing and to prevent the main body of the enemy's army from leaving Richmond and throwing itself upon your column before a junction of the two armies is effected.
        A copy of his instructions in regard to the employment of your force is annexed. By order of the President:

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

        Having some doubts, from the wording of the foregoing orders, as to the extent of my authority over the troops of General McDowell and as to the time when I might anticipate his arrival, on the 21st of May I sent this dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near Tunstall's Station, Va., May 21, 1862--11 p.m.

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President of the United States.

        Your dispatch of yesterday, respecting our situation and the batteries of Fort Darling, was received while I was absent with the advance, where I have been all this day. I have communicated personally with Captain Goldsborough and by letter with Captain Smith. The vessels can do nothing without co-operation on land, which I will not be in condition to afford for several days. Circumstances must determine the propriety of a land attack.
        It rained again last night, and rain on this soil soon makes the roads incredibly bad for army transportation. I personally crossed the Chickahominy to-day at Bottom's Bridge Ford and went a mile beyond, the enemy being about half a mile in front. I have three regiments on the other bank, guarding the rebuilding of the bridge. Keyes' corps is on the New Kent road, near Bottom's Bridge. Heintzelman is on the same road, within supporting distance. Sumner is on the railroad, connecting right with left. Stoneman, with advance guard, is within 1 mile of Now Bridge. Franklin, with two divisions, is about 2 miles this side of Stoneman. Porter's division, with the reserves of infantry and artillery, is within supporting distance. Headquarters will probably be at Cold Harbor to-morrow, I mile this side of Franklin. All the bridges over the Chickahominy are destroyed. The enemy are in force on every road leading to Richmond within a mile or two west of the stream. Their main body is on the road from New Bridge, encamped along it for 4 or 5 miles, spreading over the open ground on both sides. Johnston's headquarters are about 2 miles beyond the bridge.
        All accounts report their numbers as greatly exceeding our own. The position of the rebel forces, the declaration of the Confederate authorities, the resolutions of the Virginia Legislature, the action of the city government, the conduct of the citizens, and all other sources of information accessible to me give positive assurance that our approach to Richmond involves a desperate battle between the opposing armies.
        All our divisions are moving toward the foe. I shall advance steadily and carefully, and attack them according to my best judgment and in such manner as to employ my greatest force.
        I regret the state of things as to General McDowell's command. We must beat the enemy in front of Richmond. One division added to this army for that effort would do more to protect Washington than his whole force can possibly do anywhere else in the field. The rebels are concentrating from all points for the two battles at Richmond and Corinth. I would still most respectfully suggest the policy of our concentrating here by movements on water. I have heard nothing as to the probabilities of the contemplated junction of McDowell's force with mine. I have no idea when he can start, what are his means of transportation, or when he may be expected to reach this vicinity. I fear there is little hope that he can join me overland in time for the coming battle. Delays on my part will be dangerous. I fear sickness and demoralization. This region is unhealthy for Northern men, and unless kept moving I fear that our soldiers may become discouraged. At present our numbers are weakening from disease, but our men remain in good heart.
        I regret also the configuration of the Department of the Rappahannock. It includes a portion even of the city of Richmond. I think that my own department should embrace the entire field of military operations designed for the capture and occupation of that city.
        Again, I agree with Your Excellency that one bad general is better than two good ones.
        I am not sure that I fully comprehend your orders of the 17th instant, addressed to myself and General McDowell. If a junction is effected before we occupy Richmond, it must necessarily be east of the railroad to Fredericksburg and within my department. This fact, my superior rank, and the express language of the Sixty-second article of war, will place his command under my orders, unless it is otherwise specially directed by Your Excellency; and I consider that he will be under my command, except that I am not to detach any portion of his forces or give any orders which can put him out of position to cover Washington. If I err in my construction, I desire to be at once set right.
        Frankness compels me to say, anxious as I am for an increase of force, that the march of McDowell's column upon Richmond by the shortest route will in my opinion uncover Washington as to any interposition by it as completely as its movement by water. The enemy cannot advance by Fredericksburg on Washington. Should they attempt a movement, which to me seems utterly improbable, their route would be by Gordonsville and Manassas.
        I desire that the extent of my authority over McDowell may be clearly defined, lest misunderstandings and conflicting views may produce some of those injurious results which a divided command has so often caused. I would respectfully suggest that this danger can only be surely guarded against by explicitly placing General McDowell under my orders in the ordinary way, and holding me strictly responsible for the closest observance of your instructions. I hope, Mr. President, that it is not necessary for me to assure you that your instructions would be observed in the utmost good faith, and that I have no personal feelings which could influence me to disregard them in any particular.
        I believe that there is a great struggle before this army, but I am neither dismayed nor discouraged. I wish to strengthen its force as much as I can, but in any event I shall fight it with all the skill, caution, and determination that I possess, and I trust that the result may either obtain for me the permanent confidence of my Government or that it may close my career.

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

 

        On the 24th I received the following reply:

MAY 24, 1862--(From Washington, 24th.)

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        I left General McDowell's camp at dark last evening. Shields' command is there, but it is so worn that he cannot move before Monday morning, the 26th. We have so thinned our line to get troops for other places that it was broken yesterday at Front Royal, with a probable loss to us of one regiment infantry, two companies cavalry, putting General Banks in some peril.
        The enemy's forces under General Anderson now opposing General McDowell's advance have as their line of supply and retreat the road to Richmond.
        If, in conjunction with McDowell's movement against Anderson, you could send a force from your right to cut off the enemy's supplies from Richmond, preserve the railroad bridges across the two forks of the Pamunkey, and intercept the enemy's retreat, you will prevent the army now opposed to you from receiving an accession of numbers of nearly 15,000 men, and if you succeed in saving the bridges you will secure a line of railroad for supplies in addition to the one you now have. Can you not do this almost as well as not while you are building the Chickahominy bridges? McDowell and Shields both say they can, and positively will, move Monday morning. I wish you to move cautiously and safely.
        You will have command of McDowell, after he joins you, precisely as you indicated in your long dispatch to us of the 21st.

A. LINCOLN,
President.

        This information that McDowell's corps would march from Fredericksburg on the following Monday (the 26th), and that he would be under my command, as indicated in my telegram of the 21st, was cheering news, and I now felt confident that we would on his arrival be sufficiently strong to overpower the large army confronting us.
        At a late hour on the same day I received the following:

MAY 24, 1862--(From Washington, 4 p.m.)

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        In consequence of General Banks' critical position I have been compelled to suspend General McDowell's movements to join you. The enemy are making a desperate push upon Harper's Ferry, and we are trying to throw General Frémont's force and part of General McDowell's in their rear.

A. LINCOLN,
President.

        From which it will be seen that I could not expect General McDowell to join me in time to participate in immediate operations in front of Richmond, and on the same evening I replied to the President that I would make my calculations accordingly.
        It then only remained for me to make the best use of the forces at my disposal and to avail myself of all artificial auxiliaries, to compensate as much as possible for the inadequacy of men. I concurred fully with the President in the injunction contained in his telegram of the 24th, that it was necessary with my limited force to move "cautiously and safely." In view of the peculiar character of the Chickahominy and the liability of its bottom-land to sudden inundation it became necessary to construct between Bottom's Bridge and Mechanicsville eleven new bridges, all long and difficult, with extensive log-way approaches.
        The entire army could probably have been thrown across the Chickahominy immediately after our arrival, but this would have left no force on the left bank to guard our communications or to protect our right and rear. If the communication with our supply depot had been cut by the enemy, with our army concentrated upon the right bank of the Chickahominy, and the stage of water as it was for many days after our arrival, the bridges carried away, and our means of transportation not furnishing a single day's supplies in advance, the troops must have gone without rations and the animals without forage, and the army would have been paralyzed.
        It is true I might have abandoned my communications and pushed forward toward Richmond, trusting to the speedy defeat of the enemy and the consequent fall of the city for a renewal of supplies; but the approaches were fortified and the town itself was surrounded with a strong line of intrenchments, requiring a greater length of time to reduce than our troops could have dispensed with rations.
        Under these circumstances I decided to retain a portion of the army on the left bank of the river until our bridges were completed.
        It will be remembered that the order for the co-operation of General McDowell was simply suspended, not revoked, and therefore I was not at liberty to abandon the northern approach.
        A very dashing and successful reconnaissance was made near New Bridge on the 24th of May by Lieutenant Bowen, Topographical Engineers, escorted by the Fourth Michigan Volunteers and a squadron of the U.S. cavalry, commanded respectively by Colonel Woodbury and Captain Gordon.
        Our troops encountered a Louisiana regiment, and with little loss drove it back upon its brigade, killing a large number and capturing several prisoners. Great credit is due to the staff officers, as well as to Colonel Woodbury, Captain Gordon, and their commands, for their conduct on this occasion.
        The work upon the bridges was commenced at once and pushed forward with great vigor; but the rains, which from day to day continued to fall, flooded the valley, and raised the water to a greater height than had been known for twenty years.
        This demolished a great amount of our labor, and our first bridges, with their approaches, which were not made with reference to such extreme high water, were carried off or rendered impassable. We were obliged, with immense labor, to construct others, much longer, more elevated, and stable. Our men worked in the water, exposed to the enemy's fire from the opposite bank.
        On the 25th of May I received the following telegram:

WASHINGTON, May 25, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        Your dispatch received. General Banks was at Strasburg, with about 6,000 men, Shields having been taken from him to swell a column for McDowell to aid you at Richmond, and the rest of his force scattered at various places. On the 23d a rebel force of 7,000 to 10,000 fell upon one regiment and two companies guarding the bridge at Front Royal, destroying it entirely; crossed the Shenandoah, and on the 24th (yesterday) pushed on to get north of Banks, on the road to Winchester. General Banks ran a race with them, beating them into Winchester yesterday evening. This morning a battle ensued between the two forces, in which General Banks was beaten back into full retreat toward Martinsburg, and probably is broken up into a total rout. Geary, on the Manassas Gap Railroad, just now reports that Jackson is now near Front Royal, with 10,000 troops, following up and supporting, as I understand, the force now pursuing Banks. Also that another force of 10,000 is near Orleans, following on in the same direction. Stripped bare, as we are here, I will do all we can to prevent them crossing the Potomac at Harper's Ferry or above. McDowell has about 20,000 of his forces moving back to the vicinity of Front Royal, and Frémont, who was at Franklin, is moving to Harrisonburg; both these movements intended to get in the enemy's rear.
        One more of McDowell's brigades is ordered through here to Harper's Ferry; the rest of his forces remain for the present at Fredericksburg. We are sending such regiments and dribs from here and Baltimore as we can spare to Harper's Ferry, supplying their places in some sort by calling in militia from the adjacent States. We also have eighteen cannon on the road to Harper's Ferry, of which arm there is not a single one at that point. This is now our situation.
        If McDowell's force was now beyond our reach we should be entirely helpless. Apprehensions of something like this, and no unwillingness to sustain you, have always been my reason for withholding McDowell's from you. Please understand this, and do the best you can with the forces you have.

A LINCOLN,
President.

        On the 25th the following was also received:

WASHINGTON, May 25, 1862---2 p.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        The enemy is moving north in sufficient force to drive General Banks before him precisely in what force we cannot tell. He is also threatening Leesburg, and Geary, in the Manassas Gap Railroad, from both north and south--in precisely what force we cannot tell. I think the movement is a general and concerted one, such as would not be if he was acting upon the purpose of a very desperate defense of Richmond. I think the time is near when you must either attack Richmond or give up the job and come to the defense of Washington. Let me hear from you instantly.

A. LINCOLN,
President.

        To which I replied as follows:

COLD HARBOR,
May 25, 1862.

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        Telegram received. Independently of it, the time is very near when I shall attack Richmond. The object of the movement is probably to prevent re-enforcements being sent to me. All the information obtained from balloons, deserters, prisoners, and contrabands agrees in the statement that the mass of the rebel troops are still in the immediate vicinity of Richmond, ready to defend it. I have no knowledge of Banks' position and force nor what there is at Manassas; therefore cannot form a definite opinion as to the force against him.
        I have two corps across Chickahominy, within 6 miles of Richmond; the others on this side at other crossings within same distance, and ready to cross when bridges are completed.

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

        On the 26th I received the following:

WASHINGTON, May 26, 1862---12.40 a.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        We have General Banks' official report. He has saved his army and baggage and has made a safe retreat to the river, and is probably safe at Williamsport. He reports the attacking force at 15,000.

A. LINCOLN,
President.

        On the 26th I received the following:

WASHINGTON, May 26, 1862.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

Can you not cut the Aquia Creek Railroad? Also, what impression have you as to intrenched works for you to contend with in front of Richmond? Can you get near enough to throw shells into the city?

A. LINCOLN,
President.

        On the same day I sent the following:

COLD HARBOR, May 26, 1862.

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        Have cut the Virginia Central Road in three places between Hanover Court-House and the Chickahominy. Will try to cut the other. I do not think Richmond intrenchments formidable, but am not certain. Hope very soon to be within shelling distance. Have railroad in operation from White House to Chickahominy. Hope to have Chickahominy Bridge repaired to-night. Nothing of interest to-day.

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

        The interruption of the railroad here referred to was effected by the command of Brigadier-General Stoneman, and was intended to prevent the enemy from drawing supplies by that route or from sending re.enforcements to Anderson or Jackson.
        At 10 a.m. I sent also the following dispatch:

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        Telegrams of last night received. I am glad to know affairs are not so bad as might have been. I would earnestly call your attention to my instructions to General Banks of March 16, to General Wadsworth of same date, and to my letter of April 1 to the Adjutant-General. I cannot but think that a prompt return to the principles there laid down would relieve all probability of danger. I will forward copies by mail. I beg to urge the importance of Manassas and Front Royal in contradistinction to Fredericksburg.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        Later on the 26th I sent the following:

CAMP NEAR NEW BRIDGE,
May 26, 1862---7.30 p.m.

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        Have arranged to carry out your last orders. We are quietly closing in upon the enemy preparatory to the last struggle. Situated as I am, I feel forced to take every possible precaution against disaster and to secure my flanks against the probably superior force in front of me. My arrangements for to-morrow are very important, and, if successful, will leave me free to strike on the return of the force detached.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On the same day I received intelligence that a very considerable force of the enemy was in the vicinity of Hanover Court-House, to the right and rear of our army, thus threatening our communications, and in a position either to re-enforce Jackson or to impede McDowell's junction, should he finally move to unite with us. On the same day I also received information from General McDowell, through the Secretary of War, that the enemy had fallen back from Fredericksburg toward Richmond, and that General McDowell's advance was 8 miles south of the Rappahannock. It was thus imperative to dislodge or defeat this force, independently even of the wishes of the President, as expressed in his telegram of the 26th. I intrusted this task to Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter, commanding the Fifth Corps, with orders to move at daybreak on the 27th.
        Through a heavy rain and over bad roads that officer moved his command as follows:
        Brig. Gen. W. H. Emory led the advance, with the Fifth and Sixth Regiments U.S. Cavalry and Benson's horse battery of the Second U. S. Artillery, taking the road from New Bridge, via Mechanicsville, to Hanover Court-House.
        General Morell's division, composed of the brigades of Martindale, Butterfield, and McQuade, with Berdan's regiment of Sharpshooters and three batteries, under Capt. Charles Griffin, Fifth U.S. Artillery, followed on the same road.
        Col. G. K. Warren, commanding a provisional brigade, composed of the Fifth and Thirteenth New York, the First Connecticut Artillery, acting as infantry, the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and Weeden's Rhode Island Battery, moved from his station at Old Church by a road running to Hanover Court-House parallel to the Pamunkey.
        After a fatiguing march of 14 miles through the mud and rain General Emory at noon reached a point about 2 miles from Hanover Court-House where the road forks to Ashland, and found a portion of the enemy formed in line across the Hanover Court-House road.
        General Emory had before this been joined by the Twenty-fifth New York (of Martindale's brigade) and Berdan's Sharpshooters. These regiments were deployed, with a section of Benson's battery, and advanced slowly toward the enemy until re-enforced by General Butterfield with four regiments of his brigade, when the enemy was charged and quickly routed, one of his guns being captured by the Seventeenth New York, under Colonel Lansing, after having been disabled by the fire of Benson's battery. The firing here lasted about an hour. The cavalry and Benson's battery were immediately ordered in pursuit, followed by Morell's infantry and artillery, with the exception of Martin-dale's brigade. Warren's brigade having been delayed by repairing bridges, &c., now arrived, too late to participate in this affair. A portion of this command was sent to the Pamunkey to destroy bridges, and captured quite a number of prisoners. The remainder followed Morell's division. In the mean time General Martindale, with the few remaining regiments of his brigade and a section of artillery, advanced on the Ashland road, and found a force of the enemy's infantry, cavalry, and artillery in position near Peake's Station, on the Virginia Central Railroad. He soon forced them to retire toward Ashland.
        The Twenty-fifth New York having been ordered to rejoin him, General Martindale was directed to form his brigade and move up the railroad to rejoin the rest of the command at Hanover Court-House. He sent one regiment up the railroad, but remained with the Second Maine, afterward joined by the Twenty-fifth New York, to guard the rear of the main column.
        The enemy soon returned to attack General Martindale, who at once formed the Second Maine, Twenty-fifth New York, and a portion of the Forty-fourth New York, with one section of Martin's battery, on the New Bridge road, facing his own position of the morning, and then held his ground for an hour against large odds until re-enforced.
        General Porter was at Hanover Court-House, near the head of his column, when he learned that the rear had been attacked by a large force. He at once faced the whole column about, recalled the cavalry sent in pursuit toward Ashland, moved the Thirteenth and Fourteenth New York and Griffin's battery direct to Martindale's assistance, pushed the Ninth Massachusetts and Sixty-second Pennsylvania, of McQuade's brigade, through the woods on the right (our original left), and attacked the flank of the enemy, while Butterfield, with the Eighty-third Pennsylvania and Sixteenth Michigan, hastened toward the scene of action by the railroad and through the woods farther to the right, and completed the rout of the enemy. During the remainder of this and the following day our cavalry was active in the pursuit, taking a number of prisoners. Captain Harrison, of the Fifth U.S. Cavalry, with a single company, brought in as prisoners two entire companies of infantry, with their arms and ammunition. A part of Rush's Lancers also captured an entire company, with their arms.
        The immediate results of these affairs were some 200 of the enemy's dead buried by our troops, 730 prisoners sent to the rear, one, 12-pounder howitzer, one caisson, a large number of small-arms, and two railroad trains captured. Our loss amounted to 53 killed, 344 wounded and missing.
        The force encountered and defeated was General Branch's division of North Carolina and Georgia troops, supposed to have been some 9,000 strong. Their camp at Hanover Court-House was taken and destroyed.
        Having reason to believe that General Anderson, with a strong force, was still at Ashland, I ordered General Sykes' division of regulars to move on the 28th from New Bridge toward Hanover Court-House, to be in position to support General Porter. They reached a point within 3 miles of Hanover Court-House, and remained there until the evening of the 29th, when they returned to their original camp.
        On the 28th General Stoneman's command of cavalry, horse artillery, and two regiments of infantry were also placed under General Porter's orders.
        On the same day I visited Hanover Court-House, whence I sent the following dispatch:

HANOVER COURT-HOUSE, May 28--2 p.m.

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

        Porter's action of yesterday was truly a glorious victory. Too much credit cannot be given to his magnificent division and its accomplished leader. The rout of the rebels was complete--not a defeat, but a complete rout. Prisoners are constantly coming in; two companies have this moment arrived, with excellent arms.
        There is no doubt that the enemy are concentrating everything on Richmond. I will do my best to cut off Jackson, but am doubtful whether I can.
        It is the policy and duty of the Government to send me by water all the well-drilled troops available. I am confident that Washington is in no danger. Engines and cars in large numbers have been sent up to bring down Jackson's command. I may not be able to cut them off, but will try. We have cut all but the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad. The real issue is in the battle about to be fought in front of Richmond. All our available troops should be collected here--not raw regiments, but the well-drilled troops. It cannot be ignored that a desperate battle is before us. If any regiments of good troops remain unemployed it will be an irreparable fault committed.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

 

        Having ascertained the state of affairs, instructions were given for the operations of the following day.
        On the 28th a party under Major Williams, Sixth U.S. Cavalry, destroyed the common-road bridges over the Pamunkey and the Virginia Central Railroad bridge over the South Anna.
        On the 29th he destroyed the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad Bridge over the South Anna and the turnpike bridge over the same stream.
        On the same day, and mainly to cover the movement of Major Williams, General Emory moved a column of cavalry toward Ashland from Hanover Court-House. The advance of this column under Captain Chambliss, Fifth U.S. Cavalry, entered Ashland, driving out a party of the enemy, destroyed the railroad bridge over Stony Creek, and broke up the railroad and telegraph.
        Another column of all arms, under Colonel Warren, was sent on the same day by the direct road to Ashland, and entered it shortly after General Emory's column had retired, capturing a small party there.
        General Stoneman on the same day moved on Ashland by Peake's Station, covering well the movements of the other columns.
        The objects of the expedition having been accomplished and it being certain that the First Corps would not join us at once, General Porter withdrew his command to their camps with the main army on the evening of the 29th.
        On the night of the 27th and 28th I sent the following dispatch to the Secretary of War:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near New Bridge, May 28, 1862--12.30 a.m.

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

        Porter has gained two complete victories over superior forces, yet I feel obliged to move in the morning with re-enforcements to secure the complete destruction of the rebels in that quarter. In doing so I run some risk here, but I cannot help it. The enemy are even in greater force than I had supposed. I will do all that quick movements can accomplish, but you must send me all the troops you can, and leave to me full latitude as to choice of commanders. It is absolutely necessary to destroy the rebels near Hanover Court-House before I can advance.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        In reply to which I received the following from the President:

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        I am very glad of General F. J. Porter's victory. Still, if it was a total rout of the enemy, I am puzzled to know why the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad was not seized again, as you say you have all the railroads but the Richmond and Fredericksburg. I am puzzled to see how, lacking that, you can have any, except the scrap from Richmond to West Point. The scrap of the Virginia Central from Richmond to Hanover Junction without more is simply nothing. That the whole of the enemy is concentrating on Richmond I think cannot be certainly known to you or me. Saxton, at Harper's Ferry, informs us that large forces, supposed to be Jackson's and Ewell's, forced his advance from Charlestown to-day. General King telegraphs us from Fredericksburg that contrabands give certain information that 15,000 left Hanover Junction Monday morning to re-enforce Jackson. I am painfully impressed with the importance of the struggle before you, and shall aid you all I can consistently with my view of due regard to all points.

A. LINCOLN.

        At 6 p.m. of the 29th I sent the Secrets of War the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
May 29, 1862-6 p.m.

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

        General Porter has gained information that General Anderson left his position in vicinity of Fredericksburg at 4 a.m. Sunday with the following troops: First South Carolina, Colonel Hamilton; one battalion South Carolina Rifles; Thirty-fourth and Thirty-eighth North Carolina; Forty-fifth Georgia; Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth South Carolina; Third Louisiana; two batteries, of four guns each--namely, Letcher's Virginia and McIntosh's South Carolina batteries. General Anderson and his command passed Ashland yesterday evening en route for Richmond, leaving men behind to destroy bridges over the Telegraph road, which they traveled. This information is reliable. It is also positively certain that Branch's command was from Gordonsville, bound for Richmond, whither they have now gone.
        It may be regarded as positive, I think, that there is no rebel force between Fredericksburg and Junction.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

The following was also sent on the same day:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
May 29, 1862.

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

        A detachment from General F. J. Porter's command, under Major Williams, Sixth Cavalry, destroyed the South Anna Railroad Bridge at about 9 a.m. to-day. A large quantity of Confederate public property was also destroyed at Ashland this morning.

R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff.

        In reply to which the following was received:

WASHINGTON, May 29, 1862.

General R. B. MARCY.

        Your dispatch as to the South Anna and Ashland being seized by our forces this morning is received. Understanding these points to be on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, I heartily congratulate the country, and thank General McClellan and his army for their seizure.

A. LINCOLN.

        On the 30th I sent the following:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
May 30, 1862.

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

         From the tone of your dispatches and the President's I do not think that you at all appreciate the value and magnitude of Porter's victory. It has entirely relieved my right flank, which was seriously threatened; routed and demoralized a considerable portion of the rebel threes; taken over 750 prisoners; killed and wounded large numbers; one gun, many small-arms, and much baggage taken. It was one of the handsomest things in the war, both in itself and in its results. Porter has returned, and my army is again well in hand. Another day will make the probable field of battle passable for artillery. It is quite certain that there is nothing in front of McDowell at Fredericksburg. I regard the burning of South Anna bridges as the least important result of Porter's movement.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        The results of this brilliant operation of General Porter were the dispersal of General Branch's division and the clearing of our right flank and rear. It was rendered impossible for the enemy to communicate by rail with Fredericksburg or with Jackson via Gordonsville except by the very circuitous route of Lynchburg, and the road was left entirely open for the advance of McDowell, had he been permitted to join the Army of the Potomac. His withdrawal toward Front Royal was, in my judgment, a serious and fatal error. He could do no good in that direction, while, had he been permitted to carry out the orders of May 17, the united forces would have driven the enemy within the immediate intrenchments of Richmond before Jackson could have returned to its succor, and probably would have gained possession promptly of that place. I respectfully refer to the reports of General Porter and his subordinate commanders for the names of the officers who deserve especial mention for the parts they took in these affairs, but I cannot omit here my testimony to the energy and ability displayed by General Porter on this occasion, since to him is mainly due the successes there gained.
        On the 20th of May a reconnaissance was ordered on the south side of the Chickahominy toward James River. This was accomplished by Brig. Gen. H. M. Naglee, who crossed his brigade near Bottom's Bridge and pushed forward to within 2 miles of James River without serious resistance or finding the enemy in force. The rest of the Fourth Corps, commanded by General E. D. Keyes, crossed the Chickahominy on the 23d of May.
        On the 24th, 25th, and 26th a very gallant reconnaissance was pushed by General Naglee with his brigade beyond the Seven Pines, and on the 25th the Fourth Corps was ordered to take up and fortify a position in the vicinity of the Seven Pines. The order was at once obeyed, a strong line of rifle pits opened, and an abatis constructed a little in the rear of the point where the Nine-mile road comes into the Williamsburg road.
        On the same day General Heintzelman was ordered to cross with his corps (the Third) and take a position 2 miles in advance of Bottom's Bridge, watching the crossing of White Oak Swamp, and covering the left and the rear of the left wing of the army. Being the senior officer on that side of the river, he was placed in command of both corps, and ordered to hold the Seven Pines at all hazards, but not to withdraw the troops from the crossings of White Oak Swamp unless in an emergency.
        On the 28th General Keyes was ordered to advance Casey's division to Fair Oaks, on the Williamsburg road, some three-quarters of a mile in front of the Seven Pines, leaving General Couch's division at the line of rifle pits. A new line of rifle pits and a small redoubt for six field guns were commenced, and much of the timber in front of this line was felled on the two days following. The picket line was established, reaching from the Chickahominy to White Oak Swamp.
        On the 30th General Heintzelman, representing that the advance had met with sharp opposition in taking up their position and that he considered the point a critical one, requested and obtained authority to make such dispositions of his troops as he saw fit to meet the emergency. He immediately advanced two brigades of Kearny's division about the fourth of a mile in front of Savage Station, thus placing them within supporting distance of Casey's division, which held the advance of the Fourth Corps.
        On the 30th the troops on the south side of the Chickahominy were in position as follows: Casey's division on the right of the Williamsburg road, at right angles to it; the center at Fair Oaks; Couch's division at the Seven Pines; Kearny's division on the railroad from near Savage Station toward the bridge; Hooker's division on the borders of White Oak Swamp. Constant skirmishing had been kept up between our pickets and those of the enemy. While these lines were being taken up and strengthened large bodies of Confederate troops were seen immediately to the front and right of Casey's position.
        During the day and night of the 30th of May a very violent storm occurred; the rain, falling in torrents, rendered work on the rifle pits and bridges impracticable, made the roads almost impassable, and threatened the destruction of the bridges over the Chickahominy.
        The enemy, perceiving the unfavorable position in which we were placed and the possibility of destroying that part of our army which was apparently cut off from the main body by the rapidly-rising stream, threw an overwhelming force (grand divisions of Generals D. H. Hill, Huger, Longstreet, and G. W. Smith) upon the position occupied by Casey's division.
        It appears from the official reports of General Keyes and his subordinate commanders that at 10 o'clock a.m. on the 31st of May an aide-de-camp of General J. E. Johnston was captured by General Naglee's pickets. But little information as to the movements of the enemy was obtained from him, but his presence so near our lines excited suspicion and caused increased vigilance, and the troops were ordered by General Keyes to be under arms at 11 o'clock. Between 11 and 12 o'clock it was reported to General Casey that the enemy were approaching in considerable force on the Williamsburg road. At this time Casey's division was disposed as follows: Naglee's brigade extending from the Williamsburg road to the Garnett field, having one regiment across the railroad; General Wessells' brigade in the rifle pits, and General Palmer's in the rear of General Wessells'; one battery of artillery in advance with General Naglee; one battery in rear of rifle pits to the right of the redoubt; one battery in rear of the redoubt, and another battery unharnessed in the redoubt. General Couch's division, holding the second line, had General Abercrombie's brigade on the right along the Nine-mile road, with two regiments and one battery across the railroad near Fair Oaks Station; General Peck's brigade on the right, and General Devens' in the center.
        On the approach of the enemy, General Casey sent forward one of General Palmer's regiments to support the picket line, but this regiment gave way without making much, if any, resistance. Heavy firing at once commenced and the pickets were driven in. General Keyes ordered General Couch to move General Peck's brigade to occupy the ground on the left of the Williamsburg road, which had not before been occupied by our forces, and thus to support General Casey's left, where the first attack was the most severe. The enemy now came on in heavy force, attacking General Casey simultaneously in front and on both flanks. General Keyes sent to General Heintzelman for re-enforcements, but the messenger was delayed, so that orders were not sent to Generals Kearny and Hooker until nearly 3 o'clock, and it was nearly 5 p.m. when Generals Jameson and Berry's brigades, of General Kearny's division, arrived on the field. General Birney was ordered up the railroad, but by General Kearny's order halted his brigade before arriving at the scene of action. Orders were also dispatched for General Hooker to move up from White Oak Swamp, and he arrived after dark at Savage Station.
        As soon as the firing was heard at headquarters orders were sent to General Sumner to get his command under arms and be ready to move at a moment's warning. His corps, consisting of Generals Richardson's and Sedgwick's divisions, was encamped on the north side of the Chickahominy, some 6 miles above Bottom's Bridge. Each division had thrown a bridge over the stream opposite to its own position.
        At 1 o'clock General Sumner moved the two divisions to their respective bridges, with instructions to halt and await further orders. At 2 o'clock orders were sent from headquarters to cross these divisions without delay and push them rapidly to General Heintzelman's support. This order was received and communicated at 2.30 o'clock, and the passage was immediately commenced. In the mean time General Naglee's brigade, with the batteries of General Casey's division, which General Naglee directed, struggled gallantly to maintain the redoubt and rifle pits against the overwhelming masses of the enemy. They were re-enforced by a regiment from General Peck's brigade. The artillery, under command of Col. G. D. Bailey, First New York Artillery, and afterward of General Naglee, did good execution on the advancing column. The left of this position was, however, soon turned, and a sharp cross-fire opened upon the gunners and men in the rifle pits. Colonel Bailey, Major Van Valkenberg, and Adjutant Rumsey, of the same regiment, were killed; some of the guns in the redoubt were taken, and the whole line was driven back upon the position occupied by General Couch. The brigades of Generals Wessells and Palmer, with the re-enforcements which had been sent them from General Couch, had also been driven from the field with heavy loss, and the whole position occupied by General Casey's division was taken by the enemy.
        Previous to this time General Keyes ordered General Couch to advance two regiments to relieve the pressure upon General Casey's right flank. In making this movement General Couch discovered large masses of the enemy pushing toward our right and crossing the railroad, as well as a heavy column which had been held in reserve, and which was now making its way toward Fair Oaks Station. General Couch at once engaged this column with two regiments; but, though re-enforced by two additional regiments, he was overpowered, and the enemy pushed between him and the main body of his division. With these four regiments and one battery General Couch fell back about half a mile towards the Grapevine Bridge, where, hearing that General Sumner had crossed, he formed line of battle facing Fair Oaks Station, and prepared to hold the position.
        Generals Berry's and Jameson's brigades had by this time arrived in front of the Seven Pines. General Berry was ordered to take possession of the woods on the left, and push forward so as to have a flank fire on the enemy's lines. This movement was executed brilliantly, General Berry pushing his regiments forward through the woods until their rifles commanded the left of the camp and works occupied by General Casey's division in the morning. Their fire on the pursuing columns of the enemy was very destructive, and assisted materially in checking the pursuit in that part of the field. He held his position in these woods against several attacks of superior numbers, and after dark, being cut off by the enemy from the main body, he fell back toward White Oak Swamp, and by a circuit brought his men into our lines in good order.
        General Jameson, with two regiments (the other two of his brigade having been detached--one to General Peck and one to General Birney), moved rapidly to the front, on the left of the Williamsburg road, and succeeded for a time in keeping the abatis clear of the enemy. But, large numbers of the enemy pressing past the right of his line, he, too, was forced to retreat through the woods toward White Oak Swamp, and in that way gained camp under cover of night.
        Brigadier-General Devens, who had held the center of General Couch's division, had made repeated and gallant efforts to regain portions of the ground lost in front, but each time was driven back, and finally withdrew behind the rifle pits near Seven Pines.
        Meantime General Sumner had arrived with the advance of his corps, General Sedgwick's division, at the point held by General Couch with four regiments and one battery. The roads leading from the bridge were so miry that it was only by the greatest exertion General Sedgwick had been able to get one of his batteries to the front.
        The leading regiment (First Minnesota, Colonel Sully) was immediately deployed to the right of Couch to protect the flank, and the rest of the division formed in line of battle, Kirby's battery near the center, in an angle of the woods. One of General Couch's regiments was sent to open communication with General Heintzelman. No sooner were these dispositions made than the enemy came in strong force and opened a heavy fire along the line. He made several charges, but was each time repulsed with great loss by the steady fire of the infantry and the splendid practice of the battery. After sustaining the enemy's fire for a considerable time General Sumner ordered five regiments (the Thirty-fourth New York, Colonel Suiter; Eighty-second New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Hudson; Fifteenth Massachusetts, Lieutenant-Colonel Kimball; Twentieth Massachusetts, Colonel Lee; Seventh Michigan, Major Richardson--the three former of General Gorman's brigade, the two latter of General Dana's brigade) to advance and charge with the bayonet. This charge was executed in the most brilliant manner. Our troops, springing over two fences which were between them and the enemy, rushed upon his lines and drove him in confusion from that part of the field. Darkness now ended the battle for that day.
        During the night dispositions were made for its early renewal. General Couch's division and so much of General Casey's as could be collected, together with General Kearny's, occupied the rifle pits near Seven Pines. General Peck, in falling back on the left, had succeeded late in the afternoon in rallying a considerable number of stragglers, and was taking them once more into the action, when he was ordered back to the intrenched camp by General Kearny. General Hooker brought up his division about dark, having been delayed by the heaviness of the roads and the throng of fugitives from the field, through whom the colonel of the leading regiment (Starr) reports he "was obliged to force his way with the bayonet." This division bivouacked for the night in rear of the right of the rifle pits on the other side of the railroad. General Richardson's division also came upon the field about sunset. He had attempted the passage of the Chickahominy by the bridge opposite his own camp, but it was so far destroyed that he was forced to move Generals Howard's and Meagher's brigades, with all his artillery, around by General Sedgwick's bridge, while General French's brigade, with the utmost difficulty, crossed by the other. General Sedgwick's division, with the regiments under General Couch, held about the same position as when the fight ceased, and General Richardson, on his arrival, was ordered to place his division on the left, to connect with General Kearny; General French's brigade was posted along the railroad and Generals Howard's and Meagher's brigades in second and third lines. All his artillery had been left behind, it being impossible to move it forward through the deep mud as rapidly as the infantry pushed toward the field, but during the night the three batteries of the division were brought to the front.
        About 5 o'clock on the morning of the 1st of June skirmishers and some cavalry of the enemy were discovered in front of General Richardson's division. Captain Pettit's battery (B, First New York), having come upon the ground, threw a few shells among them, when they dispersed. There was a wide interval between General Richardson and General Kearny. To close this General Richardson's line was extended to the left and his first line moved over the railroad. Scarcely had they gained the position when the enemy, appearing in large force from the woods in front, opened a heavy fire of musketry at short range along the whole line. He approached very rapidly with columns of attack formed on two roads which crossed the railroad. These columns were supported by infantry in line of battle on each side, cutting General French's line. He threw out no skirmishers, but appeared determined to carry all before him by one crushing blow. For nearly an hour the first line of General Richardson's division stood and returned the fire, the lines of the enemy being re-enforced and relieved time after time, till finally General Howard was ordered with his brigade to go to General French's assistance. He led his men gallantly to the front, and in a few minutes the fire of the enemy ceased and his whole line fell back on that part of the field. On the opening of the firing in the morning General Hooker pushed forward on the railroad with two regiments (Fifth and Sixth New Jersey), followed by General Sickles' brigade. It was found impossible to move the artillery of this division from its position on account of the mud. On coming near the woods, which were held by the enemy in force, General Hooker found General Birney's brigade, Col. J. H. Hobart Ward in command, in line of battle. He sent back to hasten General Sickles' brigade, but ascertained that it had been turned off to the left by General Heintzelman to meet a column advancing in that direction. He at once made the attack with the two New Jersey regiments, calling upon Colonel Ward to support him with General Birney's brigade. This was well done, our troops advancing into the woods under a heavy fire, and pushing the enemy before them for more than an hour of hard fighting. A charge with the bayonet was then ordered by General Hooker with the Fifth and Sixth New Jersey, Third Maine, and Thirty-eighth and Fortieth New York, and the enemy fled in confusion, throwing down arms and even clothing in his flight. General Sickles, having been ordered to the left, formed line of battle on both sides of the Williamsburg road and advanced under a sharp fire from the enemy, deployed in the woods in front of him. After a brisk interchange of musketry fire while crossing the open ground, the Excelsior Brigade dashed into the timber with the bayonet and put the enemy to flight.
        On the right the enemy opened fire after half an hour's cessation, which was promptly responded to by General Richardson's division. Again the most vigorous efforts were made to break our line, and again they were frustrated by the steady courage of our troops. In about an hour General Richardson's whole line advanced, pouring in their fire at close range, which threw the line of the enemy back in some confusion. This was followed up by a bayonet charge, led by General French in person, with the Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth New York, supported by two regiments sent by General Heintzelman, the Seventy-first and Seventy-third New York, which turned the confusion of the enemy into precipitate flight. One gun captured the previous day was retaken.
        Our troops pushed forward as far as the lines held by them on the 31st before the attack. On the battle-field there were found many of our own and the Confederate wounded, arms, caissons, wagons, subsistence stores, and forage, abandoned by the enemy in his rout. The state of the roads and impossibility of maneuvering artillery prevented farther pursuit. On the next morning a reconnaissance was sent forward, which pressed back the pickets of the enemy to within 5 miles of Richmond; but again the impossibility of forcing even a few batteries forward precluded our holding permanently this position. The lines held previous to the battle were therefore resumed. General J. E. Johnston reports loss of the enemy in Longstreet's and G. W. Smith's divisions at 4,283; General D. H. Hill, who had taken the advance in the attack, estimates his loss at 2,500; which would give the enemy's loss 6,783. Our loss was, in General Sumner's corps, 1,223; General Heintzelman's corps, 1,394; General Keyes' corps, 3,120; total, 5,737.
        Previous to the arrival of General Sumner upon the field of battle, on the 31st of May, General Heintzelman, the senior corps commander present, was in the immediate command of the forces engaged. The first information I received that the battle was in progress was a dispatch from him stating that Casey's division had given way. During the night of the 31st I received a dispatch from him, dated 8.45 p.m., in which he says:

        I am just in. When I got to the front the most of General Casey's division had dispersed. * * * The rout of General Casey's men had a most dispiriting effect on the troops as they came up. I saw no reason why we should have been driven back.

        This official statement, together with other accounts received previous to my arrival upon the battle-field, to the effect that Casey's division had given way without making a proper resistance, caused me to state, in a telegram to the Secretary of War on the 1st, that this division "gave way unaccountably and discreditably." Subsequent investigations, however, greatly modified the impressions first received, and I accordingly advised the Secretary of War of this in a dispatch on the 5th of June.
        The official reports of Generals Keyes, Casey, and Naglee show that a very considerable portion of this division fought well, and that the brigade of General Naglee is entitled to credit for its gallantry. This division, among the regiments of which were eight of comparatively new troops, was attacked by superior numbers; yet, according to the reports alluded to, it stood the attack "for three hours before it was re-enforced." A portion of the division was thrown into great confusion upon the first onslaught of the enemy; but the personal efforts of General Naglee, Colonel Bailey, and other officers, who boldly went to the front and encouraged the men by their presence and example at this critical juncture rallied a great part of the division, and thereby enabled it to act a prominent part in this severely-contested battle. It therefore affords me great satisfaction to withdraw the expression contained in my first dispatch, and I cordially give my indorsement to the conclusion of the division commander, "that those parts of his command which behaved discreditably were exceptional cases."
        On the 31st, when the battle of Fair Oaks commenced, we had two of our bridges nearly completed; but the rising waters flooded the log-way approaches and made them almost impassable, so that it was only by the greatest efforts that General Sumner crossed his corps and participated in that hard-fought engagement. The bridges became totally useless after this corps had passed, and others on a more permanent plan were commenced.
        On my way to headquarters, after the battle of Fair Oaks, I attempted to cross the bridge where General Sumner had taken over his corps on the day previous. At the time General Sumner crossed this was the only available bridge above Bottom's Bridge. I found the approach from the right bank for some 400 yards submerged to the depth of several feet, and on reaching the place where the bridge had been I found a great part of it carried away, so that I could not get my horse over, and was obliged to send him to Bottom's Bridge, 6 miles below, as the only practicable crossing.
        The approaches to New and Mechanicsville Bridges were also over-flowed, and both of them were enfiladed by the enemy's batteries, established upon commanding heights on the opposite side. These batteries were supported by strong forces of the enemy, having numerous rifle pits in their front, which would have made it necessary, even had the approaches been in the best possible condition, to have fought a sanguinary battle, with but little prospect of success, before a passage could have been secured.
        The only available means, therefore, of uniting our forces at Fair Oaks for an advance on Richmond soon after the battle was to march the troops from Mechanicsville and other points on the left bank of the Chickahominy down to Bottom's Bridge, and thence over the Williamsburg road to the position near Fair Oaks, a distance of about 23 miles. In the condition of the roads at that time this march could not have been made with artillery in less than two days, by which time the enemy would have been secure within his intrenchments around Richmond. In short, the idea of uniting the two wings of the army in time to make a vigorous pursuit of the enemy, with the prospect of overtaking him before he reached Richmond, only 5 miles distant from the field of bat-tie, is simply absurd, and was, I presume, never for a moment seriously entertained by any one connected with the Army of the Potomac. An advance, involving the separation of the two wings by the impassable Chickahominy, would have exposed each to defeat in detail. Therefore I held the position already gained and completed our crossings as rapidly as possible.
        In the mean time the troops at Fair Oaks were directed to strengthen their positions by a strong line of intrenchments, which protected them while the bridges were being built, gave security to the trains, liberated a larger fighting force, and offered a safer retreat in the event of disaster.
        On the 2d of June I sent the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 2, 1862--10.30 a.m.

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

        Our left is everywhere advanced considerably beyond the positions it occupied before the battle. I am in strong hopes that the Chickahominy will fall sufficiently to enable me to cross the right. We have had a terrible time with our communications--bridges and causeways, built with great care, having been washed away by the sudden freshets, leaving us almost cut off from communication. All that human labor can do is being done to accomplish our purpose.
        Please regard the portion of this relating to condition of Chickahominy as confidential, as it would be serious if the enemy were aware of it. I do not yet know our loss; it has been very heavy on both sides, as the fighting was desperate. Our victory complete. I expect still more fighting before we reach Richmond.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On the same day I received the following from the Secretary of War:

WASHINGTON, June 2, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        Your telegram has been received, and we are greatly rejoiced at your success--not only in itself, but because of the dauntless spirit and courage it displays in your troops. You have received, of course, the order made yesterday in respect to Fortress Monroe. The object was to place at your command the disposable force of that department. The indications are that Frémont or McDowell will fight Jackson to-day, and as soon as he is disposed of another large body of troops will be at your service.
        The intelligence from Halleck shows that the rebels are fleeing, and pursued in force, from Corinth. All interest now centers in your operations, and full confidence is entertained of your brilliant and glorious success.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

        On the 3d I received the following from the President:

WASHINGTON, June 3, 1862.

Major General McCLELLAN

        With these continuous rains I am very anxious about the Chickahominy--so close in your rear and crossing your line of communication. Please look to it.

A. LINCOLN,
President

To which I replied as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 3, 1862.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President, Washington.

        Your dispatch of 5 p.m. just received. As the Chickahominy has been almost the only obstacle in my way for several days Your Excellency may rest assured that it has not been overlooked. Every effort has been made, and will continue to be, to perfect the communications across it. Nothing of importance, except that it is again raining.

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

        My views of the condition of our army on the 4th are explained in the following dispatch to the President:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 4, 1862.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        Terrible rain-storm during the night and morning; not yet cleared off. Chickahominy flooded; bridges in bad condition. Are still hard at work at them. I have taken every possible step to insure the security of the corps on the right bank, but I cannot re-enforce them here until my bridges are all safe, as my force is too small to insure my right and rear, should the enemy attack in that direction, as they may probably attempt. I have to be very cautious now. Our loss in the late battle will probably exceed 5,000. I have not yet full returns. On account of the effect it might have on our own men and the enemy I request that you will regard this information as confidential for a few days. I am satisfied that the loss of the enemy was very considerably greater; they were terribly punished. I mention these facts now merely to show you that the Army of the Potomac has had serious work, and that no child's play is before it.
        You must make your calculations on the supposition that I have been correct from the beginning in asserting that the serious opposition was to be made here.

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

        And in the following to the Secretary of War on the same day:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 4, 1862.

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

        Please inform me at once what re-enforcements, if any, I can count upon having at Fortress Monroe or White House within the next three days, and when each regiment may be expected to arrive. It is of the utmost importance that I should know this immediately. The losses in the battle of the 31st and 1st will amount to 7,000. Regard this as confidential for the present. If I can have five new regiments for Fort Monroe and its dependencies I can draw three more old regiments from there safely. I can well dispose of four more raw regiments on my communications. I can well dispose of from fifteen to twenty well drilled regiments among the old brigades in bringing them up to their original effective strength. Recruits are especially necessary for the regular and volunteer batteries of artillery as well as for the regular and volunteer regiments of infantry. After the losses in our last battle I trust that I will no longer be regarded as an alarmist. I believe we have at least one more desperate battle to fight.

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

        Also in my dispatch to the Secretary of War on the 5th:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 5, 1862.

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

        Rained most of the night. Has now ceased, but is not clear. The river is still very high and troublesome. Enemy opened with several batteries on our bridges near here this morning. Our batteries seem to have pretty much silenced them, though some firing still kept up. The rain forces us to remain in statu quo. With great difficulty a division of infantry has been crossed this morning to support the troops on the other side should the enemy renew attack. I felt obliged to do this, although it leaves us rather weak here.

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

On the 5th the Secretary telegraphed me as follows:

WASHINGTON, June 5, 1862--8.30 p.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        I will send you five new regiments as fast as transportation can take them; the first to start to-morrow from Baltimore. I intend sending you a part of McDowell's force as soon as it can return from its trip to Front Royal; probably as many as you want. The order to ship the new regiments to Fort Monroe has already been given. I suppose that they may be sent directly to the fort. Please advise me if this be as you desire.

EDWIN M. STANTON,

        On the 7th of June I telegraphed as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
June 7, 1862--4.40 p.m.

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

        In reply to your dispatch of 2 p.m. to-day I have the honor to state that the Chickahominy River has risen so as to flood the entire bottoms to the depth of 3 or 4 feet. I am pushing forward the bridges in spite of this, and the men are working night and day up to their waists in water to complete them. The whole face of the country is a perfect bog, entirely impassable for artillery, or even cavalry, except directly in the narrow roads, which renders any general movement either of this or the rebel army entirely out of the question until we have more favorable weather.
        I am glad to learn that you are pressing forward re-enforcements so vigorously. I shall be in perfect readiness to move forward and take Richmond the moment McCall reaches here and the ground will admit the passage of artillery. I have advanced my pickets about a mile to-day, driving off the rebel pickets and securing a very advantageous position.
        The rebels have several batteries established commanding the débouchés from two of our bridges and fire upon our working parties continually, but as yet they have killed but very few of our men.

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

        As I did not think it probable that any re-enforcements would be sent me in time for the advance on Richmond, I stated in the foregoing dispatch that I should be ready to move when General McCall's division joined me; but I did not intend to be understood by this that no more re-enforcements were wanted, as will be seen from the following dispatch:

JUNE 10, 1862--3.30 p.m.

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

        I have again information that Beauregard has arrived, and that some of his troops are to follow him. No great reliance--perhaps none whatever--can be attached to this; but it is possible, and ought to be their policy.
        I am completely checked by the weather. The roads and fields are literally impassable for artillery; almost so for infantry. The Chickahominy is in a dreadful state. We have another rain-storm on our hands. I shall attack as soon as the weather and ground will permit; but there will be a delay, the extent of which no one can foresee, for the season is altogether abnormal. In view of these circumstances I present for your consideration the propriety of detaching largely from Halleck's army to strengthen this, for it would seem that Halleck has now no large organized force in front of him, while we have. If this cannot be done, or even in connection with it, allow me to suggest the movement of a heavy column from Dalton upon Atlanta. If but the one can be done, it would better conform to military principles to strengthen this army. And even although the re-enforcements might not arrive in season to take part in the attack upon Richmond, the moral effect would be great, and they would furnish valuable assistance in ulterior movements.
        I wish to be distinctly understood that whenever the weather permits I will attack with whatever force I may have, although a larger force would enable me to gain much more decisive results.
        I would be glad to have McCall's infantry sent forward by water at once, without waiting for his artillery and cavalry.
        If General Prim returns via Washington please converse with him as to the condition of affairs here.

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

        Our work upon the bridges continued to be pushed forward vigorously until the 20th, during which time it rained almost every day, and the exposure of the men caused much sickness.
        On the 11th the following was received from the Secretary of War:

WASHINGTON, June 11, 1862.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        Your dispatch of 3.30 yesterday has been received. I am fully impressed with the difficulties mentioned, and which no art or skill can avoid, but only endure, and am striving to the uttermost to render you every aid in the power of the Government. Your suggestions will be immediately communicated to General Halleck, with a request that he shall conform to them. At last advices he contemplated sending a column to operate with Mitchel against Chattanooga, and thence upon East Tennessee. Buell reports Kentucky and Tennessee to be in a critical condition, demanding immediate attention. Halleck says the main body of Beauregard's force is with him at Okolona. McCall's force was reported yesterday as having embarked and on its way to join you. It is intended to send the residue of McDowell's force also to join you as speedily as possible.
        Frémont had a hard fight day before yesterday with Jackson's force at Union Church, 8 miles from Harrisonburg. He claims the victory, but was pretty badly handled. It is clear that a strong force is operating with Jackson for the purpose of detaining the threes here from you. I am urging as fast as possible the new levies.
        Be assured, general, that there never has been a moment when my desire has been otherwise than to aid you with my whole heart, mind, and strength since the hour we first met; and whatever others may say for their own purposes, you have never had, and never can have, any one more truly your friend, or more anxious to support you! or more joyful than I shall be at the success which I have no doubt will soon be achieved by your arms.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

        On the 12th and 13th General McCall's division arrived.
        On the 13th of June two squadrons of the Fifth United States Cavalry, under the command of Captain Royall, stationed near Hanover Old Church, were attacked and overpowered by a force of the enemy's cavalry, numbering about 1,500 men, with four guns. They pushed on towards our depots, but at some distance from our main body, and, though pursued very cleverly, made the circuit of the army, repassing the Chickahominy at Long Bridge. The burning of two schooners laden with forage and fourteen Government wagons, the destruction of some sutlers' stores, the killing of several of the guard and teamsters at Garlick's Landing, some little damage done at Tunstall's Station, and a little éclat were the precise results of this expedition.
        On the 14th I sent the following to the Secretary of War:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp Lincoln, June 14, 1862--midnight.

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

        All quiet in every direction. The stampede of last night has passed away. Weather now very favorable, I hope two days more will make the ground practicable. I shall advance as soon as the bridges are completed and the ground fit for artillery to move. At the same time I would be glad to have whatever troops can be sent to me. I can use several new regiments to advantage.
        It ought to be distinctly understood that McDowell and his troops are completely under my control. I received a telegram from him requesting that McCall's division might be placed so as to join him immediately on his arrival. That request does not breathe the proper spirit. Whatever troops come to me must be disposed of so as to do the most good. I do not feel that in such circumstances as those in which I am now placed General McDowell should wish the general interests to be sacrificed for the purpose of increasing his command. If I cannot fully control all his troops I want none of them, but would prefer to fight the battle with what I have, and let others be responsible for the results.
        The department lines should not be allowed to interfere with me, but General McDowell and all other troops sent to me should be placed completely at my disposal, to do with them as I think best. In no other way can they be of assistance to me. I therefore request that I may have entire and full control. The stake at issue is too great to allow personal considerations to be entertained. You know that I have none.
        The indications are, from our balloon reconnaissances and from all other sources, that the enemy are intrenching, daily increasing in numbers, and determined to fight desperately.

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

On the 20th the following was communicated to the President:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp Lincoln, June 20, 1862--2 p.m.

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        Your Excellency's dispatch of 11 a.m. received, also that of General Sigel.
        I have no doubt that Jackson has been re-enforced from here. There is reason to believe that General R. S. Ripley has recently joined Lee's army with a brigade or division from Charleston. Troops have arrived recently from Goldsborough. There is not the slightest reason to suppose that the enemy intends evacuating Richmond. He is daily increasing his defenses. I find him everywhere in force, and every reconnaissance costs many lives, yet I am obliged to feel my way foot by foot at whatever cost, so great are the difficulties of the country. By to-morrow night the defensive works covering our position on this side of the Chickahominy should be completed. I am forced to this by my inferiority in numbers, so that I may bring the greatest possible numbers into action and secure the army against the consequences of unforeseen disaster. I would be glad to have permission to lay before Your Excellency, by letter or telegraph, my views as to the present state of military affairs throughout the whole country. In the mean time I would be pleased to learn the disposition as to numbers and position of the troops not under my command in Virginia and elsewhere.

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

        To which I received this reply:

WASHINGTON, June 21, 1862--6 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        Your dispatch of yesterday (2 p.m.) was received this morning. If it would not divert too much of your time and attention from the army under your immediate command I would be glad to have your views as to the present state of military affairs throughout the whole country, as you say you would be glad to give them. I would rather it should be by letter than by telegraph, because of the better chance of secrecy. As to the numbers and positions of the troops not under your command in Virginia and elsewhere, even if I could do it with accuracy, which I cannot, I would rather not transmit either by telegraph or letter, because of the chances of its reaching the enemy. I would be very glad to talk with you, but you cannot leave your camp and I cannot well leave here.

A. LINCOLN,
President.

To which I sent the following reply:

CAMP LINCOLN, June 22---1 p.m.

His Excellency the PRESIDENT.

        I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of 8 p.m. yesterday. Under the circumstances, as stated in your dispatch, I perceive that it will be better at least to defer for the present the communication I desired to make.

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

        All the information I could obtain previous to the 24th of June regarding the movements of General Jackson led to the belief that he was at Gordonsville, where he was receiving re-enforcements from Richmond via Lynchburg and Staunton; but what his purposes were did not appear until the date specified, when a young man, very intelligent, but of suspicious appearance, was brought in by our scouts from the direction of Hanover Court-House. He at first stated that he was an escaped prisoner from Colonel Kenly's Maryland regiment, captured at Front Royal, but finally confessed himself to be a deserter from Jackson's command, which he left near Gordonsville on the 21st. Jackson's troops were then, as he said, moving to Frederick's Hall, along the Virginia Central Railroad, for the purpose of attacking my rear on the 28th. I immediately dispatched two trusty negroes to proceed along the railroad and ascertain the truth of the statement. They were unable, however, to get beyond Hanover Court-House, where they encountered the enemy's pickets, and were forced to turn back without obtaining the desired information. On that day I sent the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
June 24, 1862--12 p.m.

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

        A very peculiar case of desertion has just occurred from the enemy. The party states that he left Jackson, Whiting, and Ewell (fifteen brigades) at Gordonsville on the 21st; that they were moving to Frederick's Hall, and that it was intended to attack my rear on the 28th. I would be glad to learn, at your earliest convenience, the most exact information you have as to the position and movements of Jackson, as well as the sources from which your information is derived, that I may the better compare it with what I have.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        The following is his reply:

WASHINGTON, June 25, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        We have no definite information as to the numbers or position of Jackson's force. General King yesterday reported a deserter's statement that Jackson's force was, nine days ago, 40,000 men. Some reports place 10,000 rebels under Jackson at Gordonsville; others, that his force is at Port Republic, Harrisonburg, and Luray. Frémont yesterday reported rumors that Western Virginia was threatened, and General Kelley that Ewell was advancing to New Creek, where Frémont has his depots. The last telegram from Frémont contradicts this rumor. The last telegram from Banks says the enemy's pickets are strong in advance at Luray. The people decline to give any information of his whereabouts. Within the last two days the evidence is strong that for some purpose the enemy is circulating rumors of Jackson's advance in various directions, with a view to conceal the real point of attack. Neither McDowell, who is at Manassas, nor Banks and Frémont, who are at Middletown, appear to have any accurate knowledge of the subject. A letter transmitted to the Department yesterday, purporting to be dated Gordonsville, on the 14th instant, stated that the actual attack was designed for Washington and Baltimore as soon as you attacked Richmond, but that the report was to be circulated that Jackson had gone to Richmond, in order to mislead. This letter looked very much like a blind, and induces me to suspect that Jackson's real movement now is toward Richmond. It came from Alexandria, and is certainly designed, like the numerous rumors put afloat, to mislead. I think, therefore, that while the warning of the deserter to you may also be a blind, it could not safely be disregarded. I will transmit to you any further information on this subject that may be received here.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

        On the 25th, our bridges and intrenchments being at last completed, an advance of our picket line of the left was ordered, preparatory to a general forward movement.
        Immediately in front of the most advanced redoubt on the Williamsburg road was a large open field; beyond that a swampy belt of timber, some 500 yards wide, which had been disputed ground for many days. Farther in advance was an open field, crossed by the Williamsburg road and the railroad, and commanded by a redoubt and rifle pits of the enemy.
        It was decided to push our lines to the other side of these woods, in order to enable us to ascertain the nature of the ground and to place Generals Heintzelman and Sumner in position to support the attack intended to be made on the Old Tavern on the 26th or 27th by General Franklin by assailing that position in the rear.
        Between 8 and 9 o'clock on the morning of the 25th the advance was begun by General Heintzelman's corps. The enemy were found to be in strong force all along the line and contested the advance stubbornly, but by sunset our object was accomplished. The troops engaged in this affair were the whole of Heintzelman's corps, Palmer's brigade of Couch's division of Keyes' corps, and a part of Richardson's division of Sumner's corps. For the details I refer to the report of General Heintzelman.
        The casualties (not including those in Palmer's brigade, which have not been reported) were as follows: Officers killed, 1; wounded, 14; missing, 1; enlisted men killed, 50; wounded, 387; missing, 63; total, 516.
        The following telegrams were sent to the Secretary of War during the day from the field of operations:

REDOUBT NO. 3, June 25, 1862--1.30 p.m.

Hon. E. M. STANTON.

        We have advanced our pickets on the left considerably, under sharp resistance. Our men behaved very handsomely. Some firing still continues.

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

REDOUBT NO. 3, June 25, 1862--3.15 p.m.

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

        The enemy are making a desperate resistance to the advance of our picket lines. Kearny's and one-half of Hooker's are where I want them.
        I have this moment re-enforced Hooker's right with a brigade and a couple of guns, and hope in a few minutes to finish the work intended for to-day. Our men are behaving splendidly. The enemy are fighting well also. This is not a battle; merely an affair of Heintzelman's corps, supported by Keyes, and thus far all goes well. We hold every foot we have gained.
        If we succeed in what we have undertaken it will be a very important advantage gained. Loss not large thus far. The fighting up to this time has been done by General Hooker's division, which has behaved as usual--that is, most splendidly.
        On our right Porter has silenced the enemy's batteries in his front.

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

REDOUBT NO. 3, June 25, 1862--5 p.m.

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

        The affair is over, and we have gained our point fully and with but little loss, notwithstanding the strong position Our men have done all that could be desired. The affair was partially decided by two guns that Captain De Russy brought gallantly into action under very difficult circumstances. The enemy was driven from the camps in front of this place and is now quiet.

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

 

        Also, on the same day, the following:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp Lincoln, June 25, 1862--6.15 p.m.

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

        I have Just returned from the field, and find your dispatch in regard to Jackson. Several contrabands just in give information confirming the supposition that Jackson's advance is at or near Hanover Court-House, and that Beauregard arrived, with strong re-enforcements, in Richmond yesterday.
        I incline to think that Jackson will attack my right and rear. The rebel force is stated at 200,000, including Jackson and Beauregard. I shall have to contend against vastly superior odds if these reports be true; but this army will do all in the power of men to hold their position and repulse any attack.
        I regret my great inferiority in numbers, but feel that I am in no way responsible for it, as I have not failed to represent repeatedly the necessity of re-enforcements; that this was the decisive point, and that all the available means of the Government should be concentrated here. I will do all that a general can do with the splendid army I have the honor to command, and if it is destroyed by overwhelming numbers, can at least die with it and share its fate. But if the result of the action, which will probably occur to-morrow, or witinn a short time, is a disaster, the responsibility cannot be thrown on my shoulders; it must rest where it belongs.
        Since I commenced this I have received additional intelligence confirming the supposition in regard to Jackson's movements and Beauregard's arrival. I shall probably be attacked to-morrow, and now go to the other side of the Chickahominy to arrange for the defense on that side. I feel that there is no use in again asking for re-enforcements.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        The report of the Chief of the Secret Service Corps, herewith forwarded, and dated the 26th of June, shows the estimated strength of the enemy, at the time of the evacuation of Yorktown, to have been from 100,000 to 120,000. The same report put his numbers on the 26th of June at about 180,000, and the specific information obtained regarding their organization warrants the belief that this estimate did not exceed his actual strength. It will be observed that the evidence contained in the report shows the following organizations, viz: Two hundred regiments of infantry and cavalry, including the forces of Jackson and Ewell, just arrived; eight battalions of independent troops; five battalions of artillery; twelve companies of infantry and independent cavalry, besides forty-six companies of artillery; amounting in all to from forty to fifty brigades. There were undoubtedly many others, whose designations we did not learn.
        The report also shows that numerous and heavy earthworks had been completed for the defense of Richmond, and that in thirty-six of these were mounted some two hundred guns.
        On the 26th, the day upon which I had decided as the time for our final advance, the enemy attacked our right in strong force, and turned my attention to the protection of our communications and depots of supply. The event was a bitter confirmation of the military judgment which had been reiterated to my superiors from the inception and through the progress of the Peninsular Campaign.
        I notified the Secretary of War in the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp Lincoln, June 26, 1862--12 m.

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

        I have Just heard that our advanced cavalry pickets on the left bank of Chickahominy are being driven in. It is probably Jackson's advance guard. If this be true, you may not hear from me for some days, as my communications will probably be cut off. The case is perhaps a difficult one, but I shall resort to desperate measures, and will do my best to outmaneuver, outwit, and outright the enemy. Do not believe reports of disaster, and do not be discouraged if you learn that my communications are cut off, and even Yorktown in possession of the enemy. Hope for the best, and 1 will not deceive the hopes you formerly placed in me.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp Lincoln, June 26, 1862--2.30 p.m.

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

        Your dispatch and that of the President received. Jackson is driving in my pickets, &c., on the other side of the Chickahominy. It is impossible to tell where re-enforcements ought to go, as I am yet unable to predict result of approaching battle. It will probably be better that they should go to Fort Monroe, and thence according to state of affairs when they arrive.
        It is not probable that I can maintain telegraphic communication more than an hour or two longer.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On the same day I received the following dispatches from the Secretary of War:

Washington, June 25, 1862---11.20 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        Your telegram of 6.15 has just been received. The circumstances that have hitherto rendered it impossible for the Government to send you any more re-enforcements than has been done have been so distinctly stated to you by the President, that it is needless for me to repeat them.
        Every effort has been made by the President and myself to strengthen you. King's division has reached Falmouth; Shields' division and Ricketts' division are at Manassas. The President designs to send a part of that force to aid you as speedily as it can be done.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

Washington, June 26, 1862-6 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        Arrangements are being made as rapidly as possible to send you 5,000 men as fast as they can be brought from Manassas to Alexandria and embarked, which can be done sooner than to wait for transportation at Fredericksburg. They will be followed by more, if needed. McDowell's, Banks', and Frémont's force will be consolidated as the Army of Virginia, and will operate promptly in your aid by land. Nothing will be spared to sustain you, and I have undoubting faith in your success. Keep me advised fully of your condition.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

        But 5,000 of the re-enforcements spoken of in these communications came to the Army of the Potomac, and these reached us at Harrison's Bar after the seven days.
        In anticipation of a speedy advance on Richmond, to provide for the contingency of our communications with the depot at the White House being severed by the enemy, and at the same time to be prepared for a change of the base of our operations to James River if circumstances should render it advisable, I had made arrangements more than a week previous (on the 18th) to have transports with supplies of provisions and forage under a convoy of gunboats sent up James River. They reached Harrison's Landing in time to be available for the army on its arrival at that point. Events soon proved this change of base to be, though most hazardous and difficult, the only prudent course.
        In order to relieve the troops of the Sixth Corps, on the 19th of June General Reynolds' and General Seymour's brigades, of General McCall's division (Pennsylvania Reserves), were moved from Gaines' farm to a position on Beaver Dam Creek, General Meade's brigade being held in reserve in front of Gaines' farm. One regiment and a battery were thrown forward to the heights overlooking Mechanicsville, and a line of pickets extended along the Chickahominy River between the Mechanicsville and Meadow Bridges. As has been already stated, I received, while engaged on the 25th in directing the operations of Heintzelman's corps, information which strengthened my suspicions that Jackson was advancing with a large force upon our right and rear. On this day General Casey, at the White House, was instructed to prepare for a vigorous resistance, and defensive works were ordered at Tunstall's Station. Early on the 25th General Porter was instructed to send out reconnoitering parties toward Hanover Court-House to discover the position and force of the enemy, and to destroy the bridges on the Totopotomoy as far as possible.
        Up to the 26th of June the operations against Richmond had been conducted along the roads leading to it from the east and northeast. The reasons (the President's anxiety about covering Washington from Fredericksburg, McDowell's promised co-operation, partial advance, and immediate withdrawal) which compelled the choice of this line of approach and our continuance upon it have been alluded to above.
        The superiority of the James River route as a line of attack and supply is too obvious to need exposition. My own opinion on that subject had been early given, and need not to be repeated here. The dissipation of all hope of the co-operation by land of General McDowell's forces, deemed to be occupied in the defense of Washington, their inability to hold or defeat Jackson, disclosed an opportunity to the enemy, and a new danger to my right and to the long line of supplies from the White House to the Chickahominy, and forced an immediate change of base across the Peninsula. To that end from the evening of the 26th every energy of the army was bent. Such a change of base in the presence of a powerful enemy is one of the most difficult undertakings in war. I was confident of the valor and discipline of my brave army, and knew that it could be trusted equally to retreat or advance and to fight the series of battles now inevitable whether retreating from victories or marching through defeats; and, in short, I had no doubt whatever of its ability, even against superior numbers, to fight its way through to the James River, and get a position whence a successful advance upon Richmond would be again possible. Their superb conduct through the next seven days justified my faith.
        On the same day General Van Vliet, Chief quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac, by my orders telegraphed to Colonel Ingalls, quartermaster at the White House, as follows:
        Run the cars to the last moment, and lead them with provisions and ammunition. Load every wagon you have with subsistence, and send them to Savage Station by way of Bottom's Bridge. If you are obliged to abandon White House burn everything that you cannot get off. You must throw all our supplies up the James River as soon as possible, and accompany them yourself with all your force. It will be of vast importance to establish our depots on James River without delay if we abandon White House. I will keep you advised of every movement so long as the wires work; after that you must exercise your own judgment.
        All these commands were obeyed. So excellent were the dispositions of the different officers 'm command of the troops, depots, and gunboats, and so timely the warning of the approach of the enemy, that almost everything was saved, and but a small amount of stores destroyed, to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy.
        General Stoneman's communications with the main army being cut off, he fell back upon the White House and thence to Yorktown, when the White House was evacuated.
        On the 26th orders were sent to all the corps commanders on the right bank of the Chickahominy to be prepared to send as many troops as they could spare on the following day to the left bank of the river, as will be seen from the appended telegrams. General Franklin received instructions to hold General Slocum's division in readiness by daybreak of the 27th, and if heavy firing should at that time be heard in the direction of General Porter, to move it at once to his assistance without further orders.
        At noon on the 26th the approach of the enemy, who had crossed above Meadow Bridge, was discovered by the advanced pickets at that point, and at 12.30 p.m. they were attacked and driven in. All the pickets were now called in, and the regiment and battery at Mechanicsville withdrawn.
        Meade's brigade was ordered up as a reserve in rear of the line, and shortly after Martindale's and Griffin's brigades of Morell's division were moved forward and deployed on the right of McCall's division, toward Shady Grove Church, to cover that flank. Neither of these three brigades, however, were warmly engaged, though two of Griffin's regiments relieved a portion of Reynolds' line just at the close of the action.
        The position of our troops was a strong one, extending along the left bank of Beaver Dam Creek, the left resting on the Chickahominy and the right in thick woods beyond the upper road from Mechanicsville to Cold Harbor. The lower or river road crossed the creek at Ellison's Mill. Seymour's brigade held the left of the line from the Chickahominy to beyond the mill, partly in woods and partly in clear ground, and Reynolds' the right, principally in the woods and covering the upper road. The artillery occupied positions commanding the roads and the open ground across the creek.
        Timber had been felled, rifle pits dug, and the position generally prepared with a care that greatly contributed to the success of the day. The passage of the creek was difficult along the whole front, and impracticable for artillery, except by the two roads where the main efforts of the enemy were directed.
        At 3 p.m. he formed his line of battle, rapidly advanced his skirmishers, and soon attacked our whole line, making at the same time a determined attempt to force the passage of the upper road, which was successfully resisted by General Reynolds. After a severe struggle he was forced to retire with very heavy loss.
        A rapid artillery fire, with desultory skirmishing, was maintained along the whole front, while the enemy massed his troops for another effort at the lower road about two hours later, which was likewise repulsed by General Seymour with heavy slaughter.
        The firing ceased, and the enemy retired about 9 p.m., the action having lasted six hours, with entire success to our arms. But few, if any, of Jackson's troops were engaged on this day. The portion of the enemy encountered were Chiefly from the troops on the right bank of the river, who crossed near Meadow Bridge and at Mechanicsville.
        The information in my possession soon after the close of this action convinced me that Jackson was really approaching in large force. The position on Beaver Dam Creek, although so successfully defended, had its right flank too much in the air, and was too far from the main army to make it available to retain it longer. I therefore determined to send the heavy guns at Hogan's and Gaines' houses over the Chickahominy during the night, with as many of the wagons of the Fifth Corps as possible, and to withdraw the corps itself to a position stretching around the bridges, where its flanks would be reasonably secure, and it would be within supporting distance of the main army. General Porter carried out my orders to that effect.
        It was not advisable at that time, even had it been practicable, to withdraw the Fifth Corps to the right bank of the Chickahominy. Such a movement would have exposed the rear of the army, placed as between two fires, and enabled Jackson's fresh troops to interrupt the movement to James River, by crossing the Chickahominy in the vicinity of Jones' Bridge before we could reach Malvern hill with our trains. I determined then to resist Jackson with the Fifth Corps, re-enforced by all our disposable troops in the new position near the bridge heads, in order to cover the withdrawal of the trains and heavy guns, and to give time for the arrangements to secure the adoption of the James River as our line of supplies in lieu of the Pamunkey.
        The greater part of the heavy guns and wagons having been removed to the right bank of the Chickahominy, the delicate operation of withdrawing the troops from Beaver Dam Creek was commenced shortly before daylight and successfully executed.
        Meade's and Griffin's brigades were the first to leave the ground. Seymour's brigade covered the rear with the horse batteries of Captains Robertson and Tidball, but the withdrawal was so skillful and gradual and the repulse of the preceding day so complete, that although the enemy followed the retreat closely and some skirmisinng occurred, he did not appear in front of the new line in force till about noon of the 27th, when we were prepared to receive him.
        About this time General Porter, believing that General Stoneman would be cut off from him, sent him orders to fall back on the White House, and afterwards rejoin the army as best he could.
        On the morning of the 27th of June, during the withdrawal of his troops from Mechanicsville to the selected position already mentioned, General Porter telegraphed as follows:

        I hope to do without aid, though I request that Franklins or some other command, be held ready to re-enforce me. The enemy are so close that I expect to be hard pressed in front. I hope to have a portion in position to cover the retreat. This is a delicate movement, but relying on the good qualities of the commanders of divisions and brigades, I expect to get back and hold the new line.

        This shows how closely Porter's retreat was followed. Notwithstanding all the efforts used during the entire night to remove the heavy guns and wagons, some of the siege guns were still in position at Gaines' house after sunrise, and were finally hauled off by hand. The new position of the Fifth Corps was about an arc of a circle, covering the approaches to the bridges which connected our right wing with the troops on the opposite side of the river.
        Morell's division held the left of the line in a strip of woods on the left bank of the Gaines' Mill stream, resting its left flank on the descent to the Chickahominy, which was swept by our artillery on both sides of the river, and extending into open ground on the right toward New Cold Harbor. In this line General Butterfield's brigade held the extreme left, General Martindale's joined his right, and General Griffin, still farther to the right, joined the left of General Sykes' division, which, partly in woods and partly in open ground, extended in the rear of Cold Harbor.
        Each brigade had in reserve two of its own regiments. McCall's division, having been engaged on the day before, was formed in a second line in the rear of the first, Meade's brigade on the left near the Chickahominy, Reynolds' brigade on the right, covering the approaches from Cold Harbor and Dispatch Station to Sumner's bridge, and Seymour's in reserve to the second line, still farther in rear. General P. St. George Cooke, with five companies of the Fifth Regular Cavalry, two squadrons of the First Regular and three squadrons of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry (Lancers), was posted being a hill in rear of the position and near the Chickahominy, to aid in watcinng the left flank and defending the slope to the river.
        The troops were all in position by noon, with the artillery on the commanding ground and in the intervals between the divisions and brigades. Besides the division batteries there were Robertson's and Tidball's horse batteries, from the artillery reserve; the latter posted on the right of Sykes' division, and the former on the extreme left of the line, in the valley of the Chickahominy. Shortly after noon the enemy were discovered approaching in force, and it soon became evident that the entire position was to be attacked. His skirmishers advanced rapidly, and soon the firing became heavy along our whole front. At 2 p.m. General Porter asked for re-enforcements. Slocum's division, of the Sixth Corps, was ordered to cross to the left bank of the river, by Alexander' bridge, and proceed to his support.
        General Porter's first call for re-enforcements, through General Barnard, did not reach me, nor his demand for more axes, through the same officer.
        By 3 p.m. the engagement had become so severe, and the enemy were so greatly superior in numbers, that the entire second line and reserves had been moved forward to sustain the first line against repeated and desperate assaults along our whole front.
        At 3.30 p.m. Slocum's division reached the field, and was immediately brought into action at the weak points of our line.
        On the left the contest was for the strip of woods running almost at right angles to the Chickahominy, in front of Adams' house, or between that and Gaines' house. The enemy several times charged up to this wood, but were each time driven back with heavy loss. The regulars, of Sykes' division, on the right, also repulsed several strong attacks. But our own loss under the tremendous fire of such greatly superior numbers was very severe, and the troops, most of whom had been under arms more than two days, were rapidly becoming exhausted by the masses of fresh men constantly brought against them.
        When General Slocum's division arrived on the ground it increased General Porter's force to some 35,000, who were probably contending against about 70,000 of the enemy. The line was severely pressed in several points, and as its being pierced at any one would have been fatal, it was unavoidable for General Porter, who was required to hold his position until night, to divide Slocum's division and send parts of it, even single regiments, to the points most threatened.
        About 5 p.m., General Porter having reported his position as critical, French's and Meagher's brigades of Richardson's division (Second Corps) were ordered to cross to his support. The enemy attacked again in great force at 6 p.m., but failed to break our lines, though our loss was very heavy.
        About 7 p.m. they threw fresh troops against General Porter with still greater fury, and finally gained the woods held by our left. This reverse, aided by the confusion that followed an unsuccessful charge by five companies of the Fifth Cavalry, and followed as it was by more determined assaults on the remainder of our lines, now outflanked, caused a general retreat from our position to the hill in rear, overlooking the bridge.
        French's and Meagher's brigades now appeared, driving before them the stragglers who were thronging toward the bridge. These brigades advanced boldly to the front, and by their example, as well as by the steadiness of their bearing, reanimated our own troops and warned the enemy that re-enforcements had arrived. It was now dusk. The enemy, already repulsed several times with terrible slaughter, and hearing the shouts of the fresh troops, failed to follow up their advantage.
        This gave an opportunity to rally our men behind the brigades of Generals French and Meagher, and they again advanced up the hill ready to repulse another attack.
        During the night our thin and exhausted regiments were all withdrawn in safety, and by the following morning all had reached the other side of the stream. The regular infantry formed the rear guard, and about 6 o'clock on the morning of the 28th crossed the river, destroying the bridge behind them.
        Our loss in this battle in killed, wounded, and missing was very heavy, especially in officers, many of whom were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners while gallantly leading on their men or rallying them to renewed exertions. It is impossible to arrive at the exact numbers lost in this desperate engagement, owing to the series of battles which followed each other in quick succession and in which the whole army was engaged. No general returns were made until after we had arrived at Harrison's Landing, when the losses during the whole seven days were estimated together.
        Although we were finally forced from our first line after the enemy had been repeatedly driven back, yet the objects sought for had been obtained. The enemy was held at bay. Our siege guns and material were saved, and the right wing had now joined the main body of the army.
        The number of guns captured by the enemy at this battle was twenty-two, three of which were lost by being run off the bridge during the final withdrawal.
        Great credit is due for the efficiency and bravery with which this important arm of the service (the artillery) was fought, and it was not until the last successful charge of the enemy that the cannoneers were driven from their pieces or struck down, and the guns captured. Diederichs', Knieriem's, and Grimm's batteries took position during the engagement in the front of General Smith's line on the right bank of the stream, and with a battery of siege guns, served by the First Connecticut Artillery, helped to drive back the enemy in front of General Porter.
        So threatening were the movements of the enemy on both banks of the Chickahominy that it was impossible to decide until the afternoon where the real attack would be made. Large forces of infantry were seen during the day near the Old Tavern, on Franklin's right and threatening demonstrations were frequently made along the entire line on this side of the river, which rendered it necessary to hold a considerable force in position to meet them.
        On the 26th a circular was sent to the corps commanders on the right bank of the river, asking them how many of their troops could be spared to re-enforce General Porter, after retaining sufficient to hold their positions for twenty-four hours.
        To this the following replies were received:

HEADQUARTERS THIRD CORPS, June 26---4 p.m.

General R. B. MARCY.

        I think I can hold the intrenchments with four brigades for twenty-four hours. That would leave two brigades disposable for service on the other side of the river, but the men are so tired and worn-out that I fear they would not be in a condition to fight after making a march of any distance. * * *

S. P. HEINTZELMAN,
Brigadier-General.

        Telegrams from General Heintzelman, on the 25th and 26th, had indicated that the enemy was in large force in front of Generals Hooker and Kearny, and on the Charles City road (Longstreet, hill, and Huger), and General Heintzelman expressed the opinion, on the night of the 25th, that he could not hold his advanced position without re-enforcements.
        General Keyes telegraphed:

        As to how many men will be able to hold this position for twenty-four hours, I must answer, all I have, if the enemy is as strong as ever in front, it having at all times appeared to me that our forces on this flank are small enough.

        On the morning of the 27th the following dispatch was sent to General Sumner:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
June 27--8.45 a.m.

General E. V. SUMNER,
Commanding Second Army Corps.

        General Smith just reports that six or eight regiments have moved down to the woods in front of General Sumner.

R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff.

        At 11 a.m. General Sumner telegraphed as follows:

        The enemy threaten an attack on my right, near Smith.

        At 12.30 p.m. he telegraphed:

        Sharp shelling on both sides.

        At 2.45 p.m.:

        Sharp musketry firing in front of Burns. We are replying with artillery and infantry. The man on the lookout reports some troops drawn up in line of battle about opposite my right and Smith's left; the number cannot be made out.

        In accordance with orders given on the night of the 26th, General Slocum's division commenced crossing the river to support General Porter soon after daybreak on the morning of the 27th; but as the firing in front of General Porter ceased the movement was suspended. At 2 p.m. General Porter called for re-enforcements. I ordered them at once, and at 3.25 p.m. sent him the following:

        Slocum is now crossing Alexander's Bridge with his whole command. Enemy has commenced an infantry attack on Smith's left. I have ordered down Sumner's and Heintzelman's reserves, and you can count on the whole of Slocum's. Go on as you have begun.

        During the day the following dispatches were received, which will show the condition of affairs on the right bank of the Chickahominy:

JUNE 27, 1862.

Col. A. V. COLBURN,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

        General Smith thinks the enemy are massing heavy columns in the clearings to the right of James Garnett's house and on the other side of the river opposite it. Three regiments are reported to be moving from Sumner's to Smith's front. The arrangements are very good, made by Smith.

W. B. FRANKLIN,
Brigadier-General.

        Afterwards he telegraphed:

        The enemy has begun an attack on Smith's left with infantry. I know no details.

        Afterwards the following:

        The enemy has opened on Smith from a battery of three pieces to the right of the White House. Our shells are bursting well, and Smith thinks Sumner will soon have a cross-fire upon them that will silence them.

        Afterwards (at 5.50 p.m.) the following was sent to General Keyes:

        Please send one brigade of Couch's division to these headquarters without a moment's delay. A staff officer will be here to direct the brigade where to go.

        Subsequently the following was sent to Generals Sumner and Franklin:

        Is there any sign of the enemy being in force in your front! Can you spare any more force to be sent to General Porter? Answer at once.

        At 5.15 p.m. the following was received from General Franklin:

        I do not think it prudent to take any more troops from here at present.

        General Sumner replied as follows:

        If the general desires to trust the defense of my position to my front line alone, I can send French with three regiments, and Meagher with his brigade, to the right. Everything is so uncertain that I think it would be hazardous to do it.

These two brigades were sent to re-enforce General Porter, as has been observed.

        At 5.25 p.m. I sent the following to General Franklin:

        Porter is hard pressed. It is not a question of prudence, but of possibilities. Can you possibly maintain your position until dark with two brigades? I have ordered eight regiments of Sumner's to support Porter; one brigade of Couch's to this place; Heintzelman's reserve to go in rear of Sumner. If possible send a brigade to support Porter. It should follow the regiments ordered from Sumner.

        At 7.35 p.m. the following was sent to General Sumner:

        If it is possible send another brigade to re-enforce General Smith. It is said three heavy columns of infantry are moving on him.

        From the foregoing dispatches it will be seen that all disposable troops were sent from the right bank of the river to re-enforce General Porter, and that the corps commanders were left with smaller forces to hold their positions than they deemed adequate. To have done more, even though Porter's reverse had been prevented, would have had the still more disastrous result of imperiling the whole movement across the Peninsula.
        The operations of this day proved the numerical superiority of the enemy, and made it evident that while he had a large army on the left bank of the Chickahominy, which had already turned our right and was in position to intercept the communications with our depot at the White House, he was also in large force between our army and Richmond. I therefore effected a junction of our forces.
        This might probably have been executed on either side of the Chickahominy, and if the concentration had been effected on the left bank it is possible we might with our entire force have defeated the enemy there; but at that time they held the roads leading to the White House, so that it would have been impossible to have sent forward supply trains in advance of the army in that direction, and the guarding of those trains would have seriously embarrassed our operations in the battle. We would have been compelled to fight if concentrated on that bank of the river. Moreover, we would at once have been followed by the enemy's forces upon the Richmond side of the river operating upon our rear, and if in the chances of war we had been ourselves defeated in the effort, we would have been forced to fall back to the White House, and probably to Fort Monroe, and as both our flanks and rear would then have been entirely exposed our entire supply train, if not the greater part of the army itself, might have been lost. The movements of the enemy showed that they expected this, and, as they themselves acknowledged, they were prepared to cut off our retreat in that direction. I therefore concentrated all our forces on the right bank of the river. During the night of the 26th and morning of the 27th all our wagons, heavy guns, &c., were gathered there.
        It may be asked, why, after the concentration of our forces on the right bank of the Chickahominy, with a large part of the enemy drawn away from Richmond upon the opposite side, I did not, instead of striking for James River, 15 miles below that place, at once march directly on Richmond. It will be remembered that at this juncture the enemy was on our rear, and there was every reason to believe that he would sever our communications with the supply depot at the White House. We had on hand but a limited amount of rations, and if we had advanced directly on Richmond it would have required considerable time to carry the strong works around that place, during which our men would have been destitute of food, and even if Richmond had fallen before our arms the enemy could still have occupied our supply communications between that place and the gunboats and turned the disaster into victory. If, on the other hand, the enemy had concentrated all his forces at Richmond during the progress of our attack, and we had been defeated, we must in all probability have lost our trains before reaching the flotilla.
        The battles which continued day after day in the progress of our flank movement to the James River, with the exception of the one at Gaines' Mill, were successes to our arms, and the closing engagement at Malvern hill was the most decisive of all.
        On the evening of the 27th of June I assembled the corps commanders at my headquarters and informed them of my plan, its reasons, and my choice of route and method of execution.
        General Keyes was directed to move his corps, with its artillery and baggage, across the White Oak Swamp Bridge and to seize strong positions on the opposite side of the swamp, to cover the passage of the other troops and trains.
        This order was executed on the 28th by noon. Before daybreak on the 28th I went to Savage Station and remained there during the day and night, directing the withdrawal of the trains and supplies of the army.
        Orders were given to the different commanders to load their wagons with ammunition and provisions and the necessary baggage of the officers and men, and to destroy all property which could not be transported with the army.
        Orders were also given to leave with those of the sick and wounded who could not be transported a proper complement of surgeons and attendants, with a bountiful supply of rations and medical stores.
        The large herd of 2,500 beef cattle was by the Chief commissary, Colonel Clarke, transferred to the James River without loss.
        On the morning of the 28th, while General Franklin was withdrawing his command from Golding's farm, the enemy opened upon General Smith's division from Garnett's hill, from the valley above, and from Gaines' hill, on the opposite side of the Chickahominy, and shortly afterwards two Georgia regiments attempted to carry the works about to be vacated, but this attack was repulsed by the Thirty-Third New York and the Forty-Ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers on picket and a section of Mott's battery.
        Porter's corps was moved across White Oak Swamp during the day and night, and took up positions covering the roads leading from Richmond toward White Oak Swamp and Long Bridge. McCall's division was ordered on the night of the 28th to move across the swamp and take a proper position to assist in covering the remaining troops and trains.
        During the same night the corps of Sumner and Heintzelman and the division of Smith were ordered to an interior line, the left resting on Keyes' old intrenchments and curving to the right, so as to cover Savage Station.
        General Slocum's division, of Franklin's corps, was ordered to Savage Station, in reserve.
        They were ordered to hold this position until dark of the 29th, in order to cover the withdrawal of the trains, and then to fall back across the swamp and unite with the remainder of the army.
        On the 28th I sent the following to the Secretary of War:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Savage Station, June 28, 1862--12.20 a.m.

Hon. E. M. STANTON.

        I now know the full history of the day. On this side of the river (the right bank) we repulsed several strong attacks. On the left bank our men did all that men could do, all that soldiers could accomplish, but they were overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers, even after I brought my last reserves into action. The loss on both sides is terrible. I believe it will prove to be the most desperate battle of the war.
        The sad remnants of my men behave as men. Those battalions who fought most bravely and suffered most are still in the best order. My regulars were superb, and I count upon what are left to turn another battle, in company with their gallant comrades of the volunteers. Had I 20,000 or even 10,000 fresh troops to use to-morrow 1 could take Richmond, but I have not a man in reserve, and shall be glad to cover my retreat and save the material and personnel of the army.
        If we have lest the day we have yet preserved our honor, and no one need blush for the Army of the Potomac. I have lost this battle because my force was too small.
        I again repeat that I am not responsible for this, and I say it with the earnestness of a general who feels in his heart the loss of every brave man who has been needlessly sacrificed to-day. I still hope to retrieve our fortunes, but to do this the Government must view the matter in the same earnest light that I do. You must send me very large re-enforcements, and send them at once. I shall draw back to this side of Chickahominy, and think I can withdraw all our material. Please understand that in this battle we have lost nothing but men, and those the best we have.
        In addition to what I have already said, I only wish to say to the President that I think he is wrong in regarding me as ungenerous when I said that my force was too weak. I merely intimated a truth which to-day has been too plainly proved. If, at this instant, I could dispose of 10,000 fresh men, I could gain a victory to-morrow. I know that a few thousand more men would have changed this battle from a defeat to a victory. As it is, the Government must not and cannot hold me responsible for the result.
        I feel too earnestly to-night. I have seen too many dead and wounded comrades to feel otherwise than that the Government has not sustained this army. If you do not do so now the game is lost.
        If I save this army now, I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you or to any other persons in Washington.

You have done your best to sacrifice this army.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN.

        The headquarters camp at Savage Station was broken up early on the morning of the 29th, and moved across White Oak Swamp. As the essential part of this day's operations was the passage of the trains across the swamp and their protection against attack from the direction of New Market and Richmond, as well as the immediate and secure establishment of our communications with the gunboats, I passed the day in examining the ground, directing the posting of troops and securing the uninterrupted movement of the trains.
        In the afternoon I instructed General Keyes to move during the night to James River, and occupy a defensive position near Malvern hill, to secure our extreme left flank.
        General F. J. Porter was ordered to follow him, and prolong the line toward the right. The trains were to be pushed on toward James River in rear of these corps, and placed under the protection of the gunboats as they arrived.
        A sharp skirmish with the enemy's cavalry early this day on the Quaker road showed that his efforts were about to be directed toward impeding our progress to the river, and rendered my presence in that quarter necessary.

BATTLE OF ALLEN'S FARM.

        General Sumner vacated his works at Fair Oaks on June 29 at daylight, and marched his command to Orchard Station, halting at Allen's field, between Orchard and Savage Stations. The divisions of Richardson and Sedgwick were formed on the right of the railroad, facing toward Richmond, Richardson holding the right and Sedgwick joining the right of Heintzelman's corps. The first line of Richardson's division was held by General French, General Caldwell supporting in the second. A log building in front of Richardson's division was held by Colonel Brooke with one regiment (Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers), with Hazzard's battery on an elevated piece of ground, a little in rear of Colonel Brooke's command.
        At 9 a.m. the enemy commenced a furious attack on the right of General Sedgwick, but were repulsed. The left of General Richardson was next attacked, the enemy attempting in vain to carry the position of Colonel Brooke. Captain Hazzard's battery, and Pettit's battery, which afterward replaced it, were served with great effect, while the Fifty-third Pennsylvania kept up a steady fire on the advancing enemy, compelling them at last to retire in disorder. The enemy renewed the attack three times, but were as often repulsed.

BATTLE OF SAVAGE STATION.

        General Slocum arrived at Savage Station at an early hour on the 29th, and was ordered to cross White Oak Swamp and relieve General Keyes' corps. As soon as General Keyes was thus relieved he moved toward James River, which he reached in safety with all his artillery and baggage early on the morning of the 30th, and took up a position below Turkey Creek Bridge.
        During the morning General Franklin heard that the enemy, after having repaired the bridges, was crossing the Chickahominy in large force and advancing toward Savage Station. He communicated this information to General Sumner, at Allen's farm, and moved Smith's division to Savage Station. A little after noon General Sumner united his forces with those of General Franklin, and assumed command.
        I had ordered General Heintzelman, with his corps, to hold the Williamsburg road until dark at a point where there were several field-works, and a skirt of timber between these works and the railroad, but he fell back before night, and crossed White Oak. Swamp at Brackett's Ford.
        General Sumner, in his report of the battle of Savage Station, says:

        When the enemy appeared on the Williamsburg road I could not imagine why General Heintzelman did not attack him, and not until some time afterward did I learn, to my utter amazement, that General Heintzelman had left the field, and retreated with his whole corps (about 15,000 men) before the action commenced. This defection might have been attended with the most disastrous consequences, and although we beat the enemy signally and drove him from the field, we should certainly have given him a more crushing blow if General Heintzelman had been there with his corps.

        General Heintzelman, in his report of the operations of his corps, says:

        On the night of the 28th of June I received orders to withdraw the troops of my corps from the advanced position they had taken on the 25th of June, and to occupy the intrenched lines about a mile in rear. A map was sent me, showing the positions General Sumner's and General Franklin's corps would occupy.
        About sunrise the next day our troops slowly fell back to the new position, cautiously followed by the enemy, taking possession of our camps as soon as we left them.
        From some misapprehension General Sumner held a more advanced position than was indicated on the map furnished me, thus leaving a space of about three-fourths et a mile between the right of his corps and General Smith's division of General Franklin's corps.

* * * * * * * * * *

        At 11 a.m. on the 29th the enemy commenced an attack on General Sumner's troops, a few shells falling within my lines. Late in the forenoon reports reached me that the rebels were in possession of Dr. Trent's house, only 1 miles from Savage Station. I sent several cavalry reconnaissances, and finally was satisfied of the fact. General Franklin came to my headquarters, when I learned of the interval between his left and General Sumner's right, in which space Dr. Trent's house is; also that the rebels had repaired one of the bridges across the Chickahominy and were advancing.

* * * * * * * * * *

        I rode forward to see General Sumner, and met his troops falling back on the Williamsburg road through my lines. General Sumner informed me that he intended to make a stand at Savage Station, and for me to join him to determine upon the position.
        This movement of General Sumner's uncovering my right flank, it became necessary for me to at once withdraw my troops. * * * I rode back to find General Sumner. After some delay from the mass of troops in the field I found him, and learned that the course of action had been determined on; so I returned to give the necessary orders for the destruction of the railroad cars, ammunition, and provisions still remaining on the ground.

* * * * * * * * * *

        The whole open space near Savage Station was crowded with troops--more than I supposed could be brought into action judiciously. An aide from the commanding general had in the morning reported to me to point out a road across the White Oak Swamp, starting from the left of General Kearny's position and leading by Brackett's Ford.

* * * * * * * * * *

T        he advance of the column reached the Charles City road at 6.30 p.m. and the rear at 10 p.m. without accident.

        The orders given by me to Generals Sumner, Heintzelman, and Franklin were to hold the positions assigned them until dark. As stated by General Heintzelman, General Sumner did not occupy the designated position; but as he was the senior officer present on that side of the White Oak Swamp, he may have thought that the movements of the enemy justified a deviation from the letter of the orders. It appears from Ills report that he assumed command of all the troops near Savage Station and determined to resist the enemy there, and that he gave General Heintzelman orders to hold the same position as I had assigned him.
        The aide sent by me to General Heintzelman to point out the road across the swamp was to guide him in retiring after dark.
        On reaching Savage Station, Sumner's and Franklin's commands were drawn up in line of battle in the large open field to the left of the railroad, the left resting on the edge of the woods and the right extending down to the railroad. General Brooks, with his brigade, held the wood to the left of the field, where he did excellent service, receiving a wound, but retaining his command.
        General Hancock's brigade was thrown into the woods on the right and front. At 4 p.m. the enemy commenced his attack in large force by the Williamsburg road. It was gallantly met by General Burns' brigade, supported and re-enforced by two lines in reserve, and finally by the New York Sixty-ninth, Hazzard's and Pettit's batteries again doing good service. Osborn's and Bramhall's batteries also took part effectively in this action, which was continued with great obstinacy until between 8 and 9 p.m., when the enemy were driven from the field.
        Immediately after the battle the orders were repeated for all the troops to fall back and cross White Oak Swamp, which was accomplished during the night in good order. By midnight all the troops were on the road to White Oak Swamp Bridge, General French, with his brigade, acting as rear guard, and at 5 a.m. on the 30th all had crossed, and the bridge was destroyed.
        On the afternoon of the 29th I gave to the corps commanders their instructions for the operations of the following day. As stated before, Porter's corps was to move forward to James River, and, with the corps of General Keyes, to occupy a position at or near Turkey Bend, on a line perpendicular to the river, thus covering the Charles City road to Richmond, opening communication with the gunboats, and covering the passage of the supply trains, which were pushed forward as rapidly as possible upon Haxall's plantation. The remaining corps were pressed onward and posted so as to guard the approaches from Richmond, as well as the crossings of the White Oak Swamp, over which the army had passed. General Franklin was ordered to hold the passage of White Oak Swamp Bridge and cover the withdrawal of the trains from that point. His command consisted of his own corps, with General Richardson's division and General Naglee's brigade, placed under his orders for the occasion. General Slocum's division was on the right of the Charles City road.
        On the morning of the 30th I again gave to the corps commanders within reach instructions for posting their troops. I found that, notwithstanding all the efforts of my personal staff and other officers, the roads were blocked by wagons, and there was great difficulty in keeping the trains in motion.
        The engineer officers whom I had sent forward on the 28th to reconnoiter the roads had neither returned nor sent me any reports or guides. Generals Keyes and Porter had been delayed--one by losing the road and the other by repairing an old road--and had not been able to send me any information. We then knew of but one road for the movement of the troops and our immense trains. It was therefore necessary to post the troops in advance of this road, as well as our limited knowledge of the ground permitted, so as to cover the movement of the trains in the rear. I then examined the whole line from the swamp to the left, giving final instructions for the posting of the troops and the obstructions of the roads toward Richmond, and all corps commanders were directed to hold their positions until the trains had passed, after which a more concentrated position was to be taken up near James River. Our force was too small to occupy and hold the entire line from the White Oak Swamp to the river, exposed as it was to be taken in reverse by a movement across the lower part of the swamp, or across the Chickahominy, below the swamp. Moreover, the troops were then greatly exhausted, and required rest in a more secure position.
        I extended my examination of the country as far as Haxall's, looking at all the approaches to Malvern, which position I perceived to be the key to our operations in this quarter, and was thus enabled to expedite very considerably the passage of the trains and to rectify the positions of the troops. Everything being then quiet, I sent aides to the different corps commanders to inform them what I had done on the left, and to bring me information of the condition of affairs on the right. I returned from Malvern to Haxall's, and having made arrangements for instant communication from Malvern by signals, went on board of Captain Rodgers' gunboat, lying near, to confer with him in reference to the condition of our supply vessels and the state of things on the river. It was his opinion that it would be necessary for the army to fall back to a position below City Point, as the channel there was so near the southern shore that it would not be possible to bring up the transports should the enemy occupy it. Harrison's Landing was, in his opinion, the nearest suitable point. Upon the termination of this interview I returned to Malvern hill, and remained there until shortly before daylight.

BATTLE OF NELSON'S FARM, OR GLENDALE.

        On the morning of the 30th General Sumner was ordered to march with Sedgwick's division to Glendale (Nelson's Farm). General McCall's division (Pennsylvania Reserves) was halted during the morning on the New Market road, just in advance of the point where the road turns off to Quaker Church. This line was formed perpendicularly to the New Market road, with Meade's brigade on the right, Seymour's on the left, and Reynolds' brigade, commanded by Col. S. G. Simmons, of the Fifth Pennsylvania, in reserve; Randel's regular battery on the right, Kerns' and Cooper's batteries opposite the center, and Diederichs' and Knieriem's batteries of the artillery reserve on the left, all in front of the infantry line. The country in General McCall's front was an open field, intersected toward the right by the New Market road and a small strip of timber parallel to it. The open front was about 800 yards, its depth about 1,000 yards.
        On the morning of the 30th General Heintzelman ordered the bridge at Brackett's Ford to be destroyed and trees to be felled across that road and the Charles City road. General Slocum's division was to extend to the Charles City road. General Kearny's left to connect with General Slocum's left. General McCall's position was to the left of the Long Bridge road, in connection with General Kearny's left. General Hooker was on the left of General McCall. Between 12 and I o'clock the enemy opened a fierce cannonade upon the divisions of Smith and Richardson and Naglee's brigade at White Oak Swamp Bridge. This artillery fire was continued by the enemy through the day, and he crossed some infantry below our position. Richardson's division suffered severely. Captain Ayres directed our artillery with great effect. Captain Hazzard's battery, after losing many cannoneers and Captain Hazzard being mortally wounded, was compelled to retire. It was replaced by Pettit's battery, which partially silenced the enemy's guns.
        General Franklin held his position until after dark, repeatedly driving back the enemy in their attempts to cross the White Oak Swamp. At 2 o'clock in the day the enemy were reported advancing in force by the Charles City road, and at half past 2 o'clock the attack was made down the road on General Slocum's left, but was checked by his artillery. After this the enemy in large force, comprising the divisions of Longstreet and A. P. hill, attacked General McCall, whose division, after severe fighting, was compelled to retire.
        General McCall, in his report of the battle, says:

* * * * * * * * * *

        About half past two my pickets were driven in by a strong advance, after some skir-misinng, without loss on our part.
        At 3 o'clock the enemy sent forward a regiment on the left center and another on the right center, to feel for a weak point. They were under cover of a shower of shells and boldly advanced, but were both driven back--on the left by the Twelfth Regiment and on the right by the Seventh Regiment.
        For nearly two hours the battle raged hotly here. * * * At last the enemy was compelled to retire before the well-directed musketry fire of the reserves. The German batteries were driven to the rear, but I rode up and sent them back. It was, however, of little avail, and they were soon after abandoned by the cannoneers. * * * The batteries in front of the center were boldly charged upon, but the enemy were speedily forced back. * * * Soon after this a most determined charge was made on Randol's battery by a full brigade, advancing in wedge-shape without order, but in perfect recklessness. Somewhat similar charges had, I have stated, been previously made on Cooper's and Kerns' batteries by single regiments without success, they having recoiled before the storm of canister hurled against them. A like result was anticipated by Randol's battery, and the Fourth Regiment was requested not to fire until the battery had done with them. Its gallant commander did not doubt his ability to repel the attack, and his guns did, indeed, mow down the advancing host; but still the gaps were closed, and the enemy came in upon a run to the very muzzle of his guns. It was a perfect torrent of men, and they were in his battery before the guns could be removed. Two guns that were, indeed, successfully limbered had their horses killed and wounded and were overturned on the spot, and the enemy dashing past drove the greater part of the Fourth Regiment before them. The left company (B) nevertheless stood its ground, with its captain, Fred. A. Conrad, as did likewise certain men of other companies. I had ridden into the regiment and endeavored to check them, but with only partial success.

* * * * * * * * * *

        There was no running; but my division, reduced by the previous battles to less than 6,000, had to contend with the divisions of Longstreet and A. P. hill, considered two of the strongest and best among many of the Confederate Army, numbering that day 18,000 or 20,000 men, and it was reluctantly compelled to give way before heavier force accumulated upon them.

* * * * * * * * * *

        General Heintzelman states that about 5 o'clock p.m. General McCall's division was attacked in large force, evidently the principal attack; that in less than an hour the division gave way, and adds:

        General Hooker being on his left, by moving to the right repulsed the rebels in the handsomest manner, with great slaughter. General Sumner, who was with General Sedgwick in McCall's rear, also greatly aided with his artillery and infantry in driving back the enemy. They now renewed their attack with vigor on General Kearny's left, and were again repulsed with heavy loss.

* * * * * * * * * *

        This attack commenced about 4 p.m., and was pushed by heavy masses with the utmost determination and vigor. Captain Thompson's battery, directed with great precision, firing double charges, swept them back. The whole open space, 200 paces wide, was ruled with the enemy. Each repulse brought fresh troops. The third attack was only repulsed by the rapid volleys and determined charge of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania, Colonel Hays, and half of the Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers.

        General McCall's troops soon began to emerge from the woods into the open field. Several batteries were in position, and began to fire into the woods over the heads of our men in front. Captain De Russy's battery was placed on the right of General Sumner's artillery, with orders to shell the woods. General Burns' brigade was then advanced to meet the enemy, and soon drove him back. Other troops began to return from the White Oak Swamp. Later in the day, at the call of General Kearny, General Taylor's First New Jersey Brigade, Slocum's division, was sent to occupy a portion of the position from which General McCall's division had been forced back by the attack of superior numbers, a battery accompanying the brigade. They soon drove back the enemy, who shortly after gave up the attack, contenting themselves with keeping up a desultory firing till late at night. Between 12 and l o'clock at night General Heintzelman commenced to withdraw his corps, and soon after daylight both of his divisions, with General Slocum's division and a portion of General Sumner's command, reached Malvern hill.
        On the morning of the 30th, General Sumner, in obedience to orders, had moved promptly to Glendale, and upon a call from General Franklin for re-enforcements, sent him two brigades, which returned in time to participate and render good service in the battle near Glendale. General Sumner says of this battle:

        The battle of Glendale was the most severe action since the battle of Fair Oaks. About 3 o'clock p.m. the action commenced, and after a furious contest, lasting until after dark, the enemy was routed at all points and driven from the field.

        The rear of the supply trains and the reserve artillery of the army reached Malvern hill about 4 p.m. At about this time the enemy began to appear in General Porter's front, and at 5 o'clock advanced in large force against his left flank, posting artillery under cover of a skirt of timber, with a view to engage our force on Malvern hill, while with his infantry and some artillery he attacked Colonel Warren's brigade. A concentrated fire of about thirty guns was brought to bear on the enemy, which, with the infantry fire of Colonel Warren's command, compelled him to retreat, leaving two guns in the hands of Colonel Warren. The gunboats rendered most efficient aid at this time, and helped to drive back the enemy.
        It was very late at night before my aides returned to give me the results of the day's fighting along the whole line and the true position of affairs. While waiting to hear from General Franklin, before sending orders to Generals Sumner and Heintzelman, I received a message from the latter that General Franklin was falling back, whereupon I sent Colonel Colburn, of my staff, with orders to verify this, and, if it were true, to order in Generals Sumner and Heintzelman at once. He had not gone far when he met two officers, sent from General Franklin's headquarters, with the information that he was falling back. Orders were then sent to Generals Sumner and Heintzelman to fall back also, and definite instructions were given as to the movement which was to commence on the right. The orders met these troops already en route to Malvern. Instructions were also sent to General Franklin as to the route he was to follow.
        Generals Barnard and A. A. Humphreys then received full instructions for posting the troops as they arrived.
        I then returned to Haxall's, and again left for Malvern soon after daybreak. Accompanied by several general officers, I once more made the entire circuit of the position, and then returned to Haxall's, whence I went with Captain Rodgers to select the final location for the army and its depots. I returned to Malvern before the serious fighting commenced, and after riding along the lines, and seeing most cause to feel anxious about the right, remained in that vicinity.

BATTLE OF MALVERN HILL.

        The position selected for resisting the farther advance of the enemy on the 1st of July was with the left and center of our lines resting on Malvern hill while the right curved backwards through a wooded country toward a point below Haxall's, on James River. Malvern hill is an elevated plateau about a mile and a half by three-fourths of a mile in area, well cleared of timber, and with several converging roads running over it. In front are numerous defensible ravines, and the ground slopes gradually toward the north and east to the wood-land, giving clear ranges for artillery in those directions. Toward the northwest the plateau falls off more abruptly into a ravine which extends to James River. From the position of the enemy his most obvious lines of attack would come from the direction of Richmond and White Oak Swamp, and would almost of necessity strike us upon our left wing. Here, therefore, the lines were strengthened by massing the troops and collecting the principal part of the artillery. Porter's corps held the left of the line (Sykes' division on the left, Morell's on the right), with the artillery of his two divisions advantageously posted, and the artillery of the reserve so disposed on the high ground that a concentrated fire of some sixty guns could be brought to bear on any point in his front or left. Colonel Tyler also had, with great exertion, succeeded in getting ten of his siege guns in position on the highest point of the hill.
        Couch's division was placed on the right of Porter; next came Kearny and Hooker, next Sedgwick and Richardson, next Smith and Slocum, then the remainder of Keyes' corps, extending by a backward curve nearly to the river. The Pennsylvania Reserve Corps was held in re--serve, and stationed behind Porter's and Couch's position. One brigade of Porter's was thrown to the left on the low ground to protect that flank from any movement direct from the Richmond road. The line was very strong along the whole front of the open plateau, but from thence to the extreme right the troops were more deployed. This formation was imperative, as an attack would probably be made upon our left. The right was rendered as secure as possible by slashing the timber and by barricading the roads. Commodore Rodgers, commanding the flotilla on James River, placed his gunboats so as to protect our flanks and to command the approaches from Richmond.
        Between 9 and 10 a.m. the enemy commenced feeling along our whole left wing with his artillery and skirmishers as far to the right as Hooker's division.
        About 2 o'clock a column of the enemy was observed moving toward our right within the skirt of woods in front of Heintzelman's corps, but beyond the range of our artillery. Arrangements were at once made to meet the anticipated attack in that quarter, but, though the column was long, occupying more than two hours in passing, it disappeared and was not again heard of The presumption is that it retired by the rear, and participated in the attack afterward made on our left.
        About 3 p.m. a heavy fire of artillery opened on Kearny's left and Couch's division, speedily followed up by a brisk attack of infantry on Couch's front. The artillery was replied to with good effect by our own, and the infantry of Couch's division remained lying on the ground until the advancing column was within short musket range, when they sprang to their feet and poured in a deadly volley, which entirely broke the attacking force and drove them in disorder back over their own ground. This advantage was followed up until we had advanced the right of our line some 700 or 800 yards, and rested upon a thick clump of trees, giving us a stronger position and a better fire.
        Shortly after 4 o'clock the firing ceased along the whole front, but no disposition was evinced on the part of the enemy to withdraw from the field. Caldwell's brigade, having been detached from Richardson's division, was stationed upon Couch's right by General Porter, to whom he had been ordered to report. The whole line was surveyed by the generals, and everything held in readiness to meet the coming attack. At 6 o'clock the enemy suddenly opened upon Couch and Porter with the whole strength of his artillery, and at once began pushing forward his columns of attack to carry the hill. Brigade after brigade, formed under cover of the woods, started at a run to cross the open space and charge our batteries, but the heavy fire of our guns, with the cool and steady volleys of our infantry, in every case sent them reeling back to shelter, and covered the ground with their dead and wounded. In several instances our infantry withheld their fire until the attacking column, which rushed through the storm of canister and shell from our artillery, had reached within a few yards of our lines. They then poured in a single volley and dashed forward with the bayonet, capturing prisoners and colors, and driving the routed columns in confusion from the field.
        About 7 o'clock, as fresh troops were accumulating in front of Porter and Couch, Meagher and Sickles were sent with their brigades, as soon as it was considered prudent to withdraw any portion of Sumner's and Heintzelman's troops, to re-enforce that part of the line and hold the position. These brigades relieved such regiments of Porter's corps and Couch's division as had expended their ammunition, and batteries from the reserve were pushed forward to replace those whose boxes were empty. Until dark the enemy persisted in his efforts to take the position so tenaciously defended; but despite his vastly superior numbers his repeated and desperate attacks were repulsed with fearful loss, and darkness ended the battle of Malvern hill, though it was not until after 9 o'clock that the artillery ceased its fire.
        During the whole battle Commodore Rodgers added greatly to the discomfiture of the enemy by throwing shell among his reserves and advancing columns.
        As the army in its movement from the Chickahominy to Harrison's Landing was continually occupied in marching by night and fighting by day, its commanders found no time or opportunity for collecting data which would enable them to give exact returns of casualties in each engagement. The aggregate of our entire losses from the 26th of June to the 1st of July, inclusive, was ascertained, after arriving at Harrison's Landing, to be as follows:

List of killed, wounded, and missing in the Army of the Potomac from the 26th of June to the 1st of July, 1862, inclusive.

Corps Killed Wounded Missing Aggregate
1st, McCall's division (Pennsylvania Reserves) 253 1,240 1,581 3,074
2d, Sumner's 187 1,076 848 2,111
3d, Heintzelman's 189 1,051 833 2,073
4th, Keyes' 69 507 201 777
5th, Porter's 620 2,460 1,198 4,278
6th, Franklin's 245 1,313 1,179 2,737
Engineers --- 2 21 23
Cavalry 19 60 97 176
Total 1,582 7,709 5,958 15,249

        Although the result of the battle of Malvern was a complete victory, it was nevertheless necessary to fall back still farther, in order to reach a point where our supplies could be brought to us with certainty. As before stated, in the opinion of Captain Rodgers, commanding the gunboat flotilla, this could only be done below City Point. Concurring in his opinion, I selected Harrison's Bar as the new position of the army. The exhaustion of our supplies of food, forage, and ammunition made it imperative to reach the transports immediately.
        The greater portion of the transportation of the army having been started for Harrison's Landing during the night of the 30th of June and 1st of July, the order for the movement of the troops was at once issued upon the final repulse of the enemy at Malvern hill. The order prescribed a movement by the left and rear, General Keyes' corps to cover the maneuver. It was not carried out in detail as regards the divisions on the left, the roads being somewhat blocked by the rear of our trains. Porter and Couch were not able to move out as early as had been anticipated, and Porter found it necessary to place a rear guard between his command and the enemy. Colonel Averell, of the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, was intrusted with this delicate duty. He had under his command his own regiment and Lieutenant-Colonel Buchanan's brigade of regular infantry and one battery. By a judicious use of the resources at his command he deceived the enemy so as to cover the withdrawal of the left wing without being attacked, remaining himself on the previous day's battle-field until about 7 o'clock of the 2d of July. Meantime General Keyes, having received his orders, commenced vigorous preparations for covering the movement of the entire army and protecting the trains. It being evident that the immense number of wagons and artillery carriages pertaining to the army could not move with celerity along a single road, General Keyes took advantage of every accident of the ground to open new avenues and to facilitate the movement. He made preparations for obstructing the roads after the army had passed, so as to prevent any rapid pursuit, destroying effectually Turkey Bridge, on the main road, and rendering other roads and approaches temporarily impassable by felling trees across them. He kept the trains well closed up, and directed the march so that the troops could move on each side of the roads, not obstructing the passage, but being in good position to repel an attack from any quarter. His dispositions were so successful that, to use his own words:
        I do not think more vehicles or more public property were abandoned on the march from Turkey Bridge than would have been left, in the same state of the roads, if the army had been moving toward the enemy instead of away from him. And when it is understood that the carriages and teams belonging to this army, stretched out in one line, would extend not far from 40 miles, the energy and caution necessary for their safe withdrawal from the presence of an enemy vastly superior in numbers will be appreciated.
        The last of the wagons did not reach the site selected at Harrison's Bar until after dark on the 3d of July, and the rear guard did not move into their camp until everything was secure. The enemy followed up with a small force, and on the 3d threw a few shells at the rear guard, but were quickly dispersed by our batteries and the fire of the gunboats.
        Great credit must be awarded to General Keyes for the skill and energy which characterized his performance of the important and delicate duties intrusted to his charge. High praise is also due to the officers and men of the First Connecticut Artillery, Colonel Tyler, for the manner in which they withdrew all the heavy guns during the seven days and from Malvern hill. Owing to the crowded state of the roads the teams could not be brought within a couple of miles of the position, but these energetic soldiers removed the guns by hand for that distance, leaving nothing behind.

Third PERIOD.

        On the 1st July I received the following from the President:

Washington, July 1, 1862--3.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        It is impossible to re-enforce you for your present emergency. If we had a million of men we could not get them to you in time. We have not the men to send. If you are not strong enough to face the enemy you must find a place of security, and wait, rest, and repair.  Maintain your ground if you can, but save the army at all events, even if you fall back to Fort Monroe. We still have strength enough in the country and will bring it out.

A. LINCOLN.

        In a dispatch from the President to me, on the 2d of July, he says:

        If you think you are not strong enough to take Richmond just now, I do not ask you to. Try just now to save the army, material, and personnel, and I will strengthen it for the offensive again as fast as I can. The Governors of eighteen States offer me a new levy of 300,000, which I accept.

On the 3d of July the following kind dispatch was received from the President:

Washington, July 3, 1862--3 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        Yours of 5.30 yesterday is just received. I am satisfied that yourself, officers, and men have done the best you could. All accounts say better fighting was never done. Ten thousand thanks for it.

* * * * * * * * * *

A. LINCOLN.

        On the 4th I sent the following to the President:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Harrison's Bar, James River, July 4, 1862.

The PRESIDENT.

        I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 2d instant.
        I shall make a stand at this place, and endeavor to give my men the repose they so much require.
        After sending my communication on Tuesday the enemy attacked the left of our lines, and a fierce battle ensued, lasting until night. They were repulsed with great slaughter. Had their attack succeeded the consequences would have been disastrous in the extreme. This closed the hard fighting, which had continued from the afternoon of the 26th ultimo in a daily series of engagements wholly unparalleled on this continent for determination and slaughter on both sides. The mutual loss in killed and wounded is enormous; that of the enemy certainly greatest.
        On Tuesday morning, the 1st, our army commenced its movement from Hoax's to this point, our line of defense there being too extended to be maintained by our weakened forces. Our train was immense, and about 4 a.m. on the 2d a heavy storm of rain began, which continued during the entire day and until the forenoon of yesterday. The roads became horrible. Troops, artillery, and wagons moved on steadily, and our whole army, men and material, was finally brought safe into this camp. The last of the wagons reached here at noon yesterday. The exhaustion was very great, but the army preserved its morale, and would have repelled any attack which the enemy was in condition to make.
        We now occupy a line of heights about 2 miles from the James, a plain extending from there to the river. Our front is about 3 miles long. These heights command our whole position, and must be maintained. The gunboats can render valuable support upon both flanks. If the enemy attack us in front we must hold our ground as we best may, and at whatever cost. Our positions can be carried only by overwhelming numbers. The spirit of the army is excellent. Stragglers are finding their regiments, and the soldiers exinbit the best results of discipline. Our position is by no means impregnable, especially as a morass extends on this side of the high ground from our center to the James on our right. The enemy may attack in vast numbers, and if so, our front will be the scene of a desperate battle, which, if lost, will be decisive. Our army is fearfully weakened by killed, wounded, and prisoners. I cannot now approximate to any statement of our losses, but we were not beaten in any conflict. The enemy were unable by their utmost efforts to drive us from any field.
        Never did such a change of base, involving a retrogade movement, and under incessant attacks from a most determined and vastly more numerous foe, partake so little of disorder. We have lost no guns except twenty-five on the field of battle, twenty-one of which were lost by the giving way of McCall's division under the onset of superior numbers.
        Our communications by the James River are not secure. There are points where the enemy can establish themselves with cannon or musketry and command the river, and whore it is not certain that our gunboats can drive them out. In case of this, or in case our front is broken, I will still make every effort to preserve at least the personnel of the army, and the events of the last few days leave no question that the troops will do all that their country can ask. Send such re-enforcements as you can. I will do what I can. We are shipping our wounded and sick and landing supplies. The Navy Department should co-operate with us to the extent of its resources. Captain Rogers is doing all in his power in the kindest and most efficient manner.
        When all the circumstances of the case are known it will be acknowledged by all competent judges that the movement just completed by this army is unparalleled in the annals of war. Under the most difficult circumstances we have preserved our trains, our guns, our material, and, above all, our honor.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        To which I received the following reply:

Washington, July 5, 1862--9 a.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Commanding Army of Potomac.

        A thousand thanks for the relief your two dispatches, of 12 and 1 p.m. yesterday, gave me. Be assured the heroism and skill of yourself and officers and men is, and forever will be, appreciated.
        If you can hold your present position we shall hive the enemy yet.

A. LINCOLN.

        The following letters were received from his Excellency the President:

WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington City, D.C., July 4, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        I understand your position as stated in your letter and by General Marcy. To reenforce you so as to enable you to resume the offensive within a month, or even six weeks, is impossible. In addition to that arrived and now arriving from the Potomac about 10,000 men, I suppose, and about 10,000 I hope you will have from Burnside very soon, and about 5,000 from Hunter a little later, I do not see how I can send you another man within a month. Under these circumstances the defensive re: the present must be your only care. Save the army, first, where you are, if you can; secondly, by removal, if you must. You, on the ground, must be the judge as to which you will attempt and of the means for effecting it. I but give it as my opinion that with the aid of the gunboats and the re-enforcements mentioned above you can hold your present position, provided, and so long as, you can keep the James River open below you If you are not tolerably confident you can keep the James River open, you had better remove as soon as possible. I do not remember that you have expressed any apprehension as to the danger of having your communication cut on the river below you, yet I do not suppose it can have escaped your attention.

Yours, very truly,
A. LINCOLN.

P. S.--If at any time you feel able to take the offensive you are not restrained from doing so.

        The following telegram was sent on the 7th:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, July 7, 1862---8.30 a.m

.ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        As boat is starting I have only time to acknowledge receipt of dispatch by General Marcy. Enemy have not attacked. My position is very strong, and daily becoming more so. If not attacked to-day I shall laugh at them. I have been anxious about my communications. Had long consultation about it with Flag-Officer Goldsborough last night. He is confident he can keep river open. He should have all gunboats possible. Will see him again this morning. My men in splendid spirits, and anxious to try it again. Alarm yourself as little as possible about me, and don't lose confidence in this army.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        While General-in-Chief, and directing the operations of all our armies in the field, I had become deeply impressed with the importance of adopting and carrying out certain views regarding the conduct of the war, which, in my judgment, were essential to its objects and its success. During an active campaign of three months in the enemy's country these were so fully confirmed, that I conceived it a duty, in the critical position we then occupied, not to withhold a candid expression of the more important of these views from the Commander-in-Chief, whom the Constitution places at the head of the armies and navies, as well as of the Government of the nation.
        The following is a copy of my letter to Mr. Lincoln:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va., July 7, 1862.

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        Mr. PRESIDENT: You have been fully informed that the rebel army is in our front with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our positions or reducing us by blocking our river communications. I cannot but regard our condition as critical, and I earnestly desire, in view of possible contingencies, to lay before Your Excellency for your private consideration my general views concerning the existing state of the rebellion, although they do not strictly relate to the situation of this army or strictly come within the scope of my official duties. These views amount to convictions, and are deeply impressed upon my mind and heart. Our cause must never be abandoned; it is the cause of free institutions and self-government. The Constitution and the Union must be preserved, whatever may be the cost in time, treasure, and blood. If secession is successful, other dissolution's are clearly to be seen in the future. Let neither military disaster, political faction, nor foreign war shake your settled purpose to enforce the equal operation of the laws of the United States upon the people of every State.
        The time has come when the Government must determine upon a civil and military policy covering the whole ground of our national trouble. The responsibility of determining, declaring, and supporting such civil and military policy, and of directing the whole course of national affairs in regard to the rebellion, must now be assumed and exercised by you, or our cause will be lost. The Constitution gives you power sufficient even for the present terrible exigency.
        This rebellion has assumed the character of a war. As such it should be regarded, and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known to Christian civilization. It should not be a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any State in any event. It should not be at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political organizations. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of States, or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment.
        In prosecuting the war all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations; all private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes, all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanor by the military toward citizens promptly rebuked. Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active hostilities exist, and oaths not required by enactment's constitutionally made should be neither demanded nor received. Military government should be confined to the preservation of public order and the protection of political rights. Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master, except for repressing disorder, as in other cases. Slaves, contraband under the act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted, and the right of the owner to compensation therefor should be recognized. This principle might be extended, upon grounds of military necessity and security, to all the slaves of a particular State, thus working manumission in such State; and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia also, and possibly even in Maryland, the expediency of such a measure is only a question of time. A system of policy thus constitutional, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty.
        Unless the principles governing the future conduct of our struggle shall be made known and approved the effort to obtain requisite forces will be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, especially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies. The policy of the Government must be supported by concentrations of military power. The national forces should not be dispersed in expeditions, posts of occupation, and numerous armies, but should be mainly collected into masses, and brought to bear upon the armies of the Confederate States. Those armies thoroughly defeated, the political structure which they support would soon cease to exist.
        In carrying out any system of policy which you may form you will require a Commander-in-Chief of the Army-one who possesses your confidence, understands your views, and who is competent to execute your orders by directing the military forces of the nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place for myself. I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me, and I will do so as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.
        I may be on the brink of eternity, and as I hope forgiveness from my Maker I have written this letter with sincerity toward you and from love for my country.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

        I telegraphed the President on the 11th as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, July 11, 1862--3 p.m.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

* * * * * * * * * *

        We are very strong here now, so far as defensive is concerned. Hope you will soon make us strong enough to advance and try it again. All in fine spirits.

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

        These telegrams were sent on the 12th, 17th, and 18th to his Excellency the President:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, July 12, 1862-7.15 a.m.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        Hill and Longstreet crossed into New Kent County, via Long Bridge, I am still ignorant what road they afterward took, but will know shortly.
        Nothing else of interest since last dispatch. Rain ceased, and everything quiet. Men resting well, but beginning to be impatient for another fight. I am more and more convinced that this army ought not to be withdrawn from here, but promptly re-enforced and thrown again upon Richmond. If we have little more than half a chance we can take it. I dread the effects of any retreat upon the morale of the men.

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

 

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, July 17, l862--8 a.m.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President

        I have consulted fully with General Burnside, and would commend to your favorable consideration the general's plan for bringing seven additional regiments from North Carolina by leaving New Berne to the care of the gunboats. It appears manifestly to be our policy to concentrate here everything we can possibly spare from less important points to make sure of crushing the enemy at Richmond, which seems clearly to be the most important point in rebellion. Nothing should he left to chance here. I would recommend that General Burnside, with all his troops, be ordered to this army, to enable it to assume the offensive as soon as possible.

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

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, July 18, 1862--8 a.m.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        No change worth reporting in the state of affairs. Some 20,000 to 25,000 of the enemy at Petersburg, and others thence to Richmond.
        Those at Petersburg say they are part of Beauregard's army. New troops arriving via Petersburg. Am anxious to have determination of Government, that no time may be lost in preparing for it. Hours are very precious new and perfect unity of action necessary.

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

        The following was telegraphed to General Halleck on the 28th:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, July 28, 1862--8 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army, Washington, D.C.

        Nothing especially new except corroboration of reports that re-enforcements are reaching Richmond from south. It is not confirmed that any of Bragg's troops are yet here. My opinion is more and more firm that here is the defense of Washington, and that I should be at once re-enforced by all available troops to enable me to advance. Retreat would be disastrous to the army and the cause. I am confident of that.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

 

        On the 30th I sent the following to the General-in-Chief:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, July 30, 1862--7 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army, Washington, D.C.

        decision may be to re-enforce it at once. We are losing much valuable time, and that at a moment when energy and decision are sadly needed.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

 

        About half an hour after midnight, on the morning of August 1, the enemy brought some light batteries to Coggins' Point and the Cole's house, on the right bank of James River, directly opposite Harrison's Landing, and opened a heavy fire upon our shipping and encampments. It was continued rapidly for about thirty minutes, when they were driven back by the fire of our guns. This affair was reported in the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 2, 1862--8 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.

        Firing of night before last killed some 10 men and wounded about 15.
        No harm of the slightest consequence done to the shipping, although several were struck. Sent party across river yesterday to the Cole's house; destroyed it and cut down the timber. Will complete work to-day, and also send party to Coggins' Point, which I will probably occupy. I will attend to your telegraph about pressing at once. Will send Hooker out. Give me Burnside, and I will stir these people up. I need more cavalry; have only 3,700 for duty in cavalry division.
        Adjutant General s Office forgot to send Sykes commission as major-general with those of other division commanders; do me the favor to hurry it on.

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

        To prevent another demonstration of this character, and to insure a débouché on the south bank of the James, it became necessary to occupy Coggins' Point, which was done on the 3d, and the enemy, as will be seen from the following dispatch, driven back toward Petersburg:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 3, 1862---10 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Comdg. U. S. Army, Washington, D.C.

        Coggins' Point was occupied to-day, and timber felled so as to make it quite defensible. I went over the ground myself, and found that Duane had, as usual, selected an admirable position, which can be intrenched with a small amount of labor, so as to make it a formidable tete-de-pont, covering the landing of a large force.
        I shall begin intrenching it by the labor of contrabands to-morrow. The position covers the Cole's house, which is directly in front of Westover. We have now a safe débouché on the south bank, and are secure against midnight cannonading. A few thousand more men would place us in condition at least to annoy and disconcert the enemy very much.
        I sent Colonel Averell this morning with 300 cavalry to examine the country on the south side of the James, and try to catch some cavalry at Sycamore Church, which is on the main road from Petersburg to Suffolk, and some 5 miles from Cole's house. He found a cavalry force of 550 men, attacked them at once, drove in their advance guards to their camp, where we had a sharp skirmish, and drove them off in disorder. He burned their entire camp, with their commissary and quartermaster's stores, and then returned and recrossed the river. He took but 2 prisoners, had 1 man wounded by a ball and 1 by a saber cut. Captain Mcintosh made a handsome charge. The troops engaged were of the Fifth Regulars and the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry.
        Colonel Averell conducted this affair, as he does everything he undertakes, to my entire satisfaction.

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

        On the 1st of August I received the following dispatches:

Washington, July 30, 1862---8 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        A dispatch just received from General Pope says that deserters report that the enemy is moving south of James River and that the force in Richmond is very small. I suggest he be pressed in that direction, so as to ascertain the facts of the case.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

Washington, July 30, 1862--8 p.m.

Maj. Gen. George B. McCLELLAN.

        In order to enable you to move in any direction, it is necessary to relieve you of your sick. The Surgeon-General has therefore been directed to make arrangements for them at other places, and the Quartermaster-General to provide transportation. I hope you will send them away as quickly as possible, and advise me of their removal.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

        It is clear that the General-in-Chief attached some weight to the report received from General Pope, and I was justified in supposing that the order in regard to the removing the sick contemplated an offensive movement rather than a retreat, as I had no other data than the telegrams just given from which to form an opinion as to the intentions of the Government.
        The following telegram strengthened me in that belief:

Washington, July 31, 1862--10 a.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        General Pope again telegraphs that the enemy is reported to be evacuating Richmond and falling back on Danville and Lynchburg.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

        In occupying Coggins' Point, as already described, I was influenced by the necessity of possessing a secure debouche on the south of the James, in order to enable me to move on the communications of Richmond in that direction as well as to prevent a repetition of midnight cannonades.
        To carry out General Halleck's first order of July 30 it was necessary first to gain possession of Malvern hill, which was occupied by the enemy, apparently in some little force, and controlled the direct approach to Richmond. Its temporary occupation, at least, was equally necessary in the event of a movement upon Petersburg or even the abandonment of the Peninsula. General Hooker, with his own division and Pleasonton's cavalry, was therefore directed to gain possession of Malvern hill on the night of the 2d of August. He failed to do so, as the following dispatch recites:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 3, 1862--10.20 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        The movement undertaken up the river last night failed on account of the incompetency of guides. The proper steps have been taken to-day to remedy this evil, and I hope to be really to-morrow night to carry out your suggestions as to pressing, at least to accomplish the first indispensable step.

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

        On the 4th General Hooker was re-enforced by General Sedgwick's division, and having obtained a knowledge of the roads, he succeeded in turning Malvern hill and driving the enemy back toward Richmond.
        The following is my report of this affair at the time:

MALVERN HILL, August 5, 1862---1 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        General Hooker, at 5.30 this morning, attacked a very considerable force of infantry and artillery stationed at this place and carried it handsomely, driving the enemy toward New Market, which is 4 miles distant, and where it is said they have a large force. We have captured 100.prisoners, killed and wounded several, with a loss on our part of only 3 killed and 11 wounded--among the latter 2 officers.
        I shall probably remain here to-night, ready to act as circumstances may require,
after the return of my cavalry reconnaissances. The mass of the enemy escaped under the cover of a dense fog, but our cavalry are still in pursuit, and I trust may succeed in capturing many more. This is a very advantageous position to cover an advance on Richmond and only 14 miles distant, and I feel confident that with re-enforcements I could march this army there in five days.
        I this instant learn that several brigades of the enemy are 4 miles from here, on the Quaker road, and I have taken steps to prepare to meet them.
        General Hooker's dispositions were admirable, and his officers and men displayed their usual gallantry.

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

MALVERN HILL, August 5, 1802---8 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army

        Since my last dispatch Colonel Averell has returned from a reconnaissance in the direction of Savage Station toward Richmond. He encountered the Tenth Virginia Cavalry near White Oak Swamp Bridge, charged and drove them some distance toward Richmond, capturing 28 men and horses, killing and wounding several.
        Our troops have advanced 12 miles in one direction and 17 in another toward Richmond.
        To-day we have secured a strong position at Coggins Point, opposite our quartermaster's depot, which will effectually prevent the rebels from using artillery hereafter against our camps.
        I learn this evening that there is a force of 20,000 men about 6 miles back from this point, on the south bank of the river, What their object is I do not know, but will keep a sharp lookout on their movements.
        I am sending off sick as rapidly as our transports will take them. I am also doing everything in my power to carry out your orders to push reconnaissances toward the rebel capital, and hope soon to find out whether the reports regarding the abandonment of that place are true.

GEC. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        To the dispatch of 1 p.m., August 5, the following answer was received:

Washington, August 6, 1862---3 a.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        I have no re-enforcements to send you.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

        And soon after the following:

Washington, August 6, 1862.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        You will immediately send a regiment of cavalry and several batteries of artillery to Burnside's command at Aquia Creek. It is reported that Jackson is moving north with a very large force.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

        On the 4th I had received General Halleck's order of the 3d (which appears below), directing me to withdraw the army to Aquia, and on the same day sent an earnest protest against it. A few hours before this General Hooker had informed me that his cavalry pickets reported large bodies of the enemy advancing and driving them in, and that he would probably be attacked at daybreak.
        Under these circumstances I had determined to support him; but as I could not get the whole army in position until the next afternoon I concluded, upon the receipt of the above telegram from the General-in-Chief, to withdraw General Hooker, that there might be the least possible delay in conforming to General Halleck's orders. I therefore sent to General Hooker the following letter:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 6, 1862--10 p.m.

General J. HOOKER,
Commanding at Malvern hill.

MY DEAR GENERAL: I find it will not be possible to get the whole army into position before some time to-morrow afternoon, which will be too late to support you and hold the entire position, should the enemy attack in large force at daybreak, which there is strong reason to suppose he intends doing. Should we fight a general battle at Malvern it will be necessary to abandon the whole of our worlds here, and run the risk of getting back here. Under advices I have received from Washington, I think it necessary for you to abandon the position to-night, getting everything away before daylight. Please leave cavalry pickets at Malvern, with orders to destroy the Turkey Creek Bridge when they are forced back. The roads leading into Haxall's from the right should be strongly watched, and Haxall's at least held by strong cavalry force and some light batteries as long as possible. I leave the manner of the withdrawal entirely to your discretion. Please signal to the fleet when the withdrawal is about completed. Report frequently to these headquarters.
        General Sumner was ordered up to support you, but will halt where this passes him, and will inform you where he is.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        And the following reply was sent to General Halleck:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 6, 1862---11.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Dispatch of to-day received. I have not quite 4,000 cavalry for duty in cavalry division, so that I cannot possibly spare any more. I really need many more than I now have to carry out your instructions. The enemy are moving a large force on Malvern hill. In view of your dispatches and the fact that I cannot place the whole army in position before daybreak, I have ordered Hooker to withdraw during the night if it is possible. If he cannot do so I must support him. Until this matter is developed I cannot send any batteries. I hope I can do so to-morrow if transportation is on hand. I will obey the order as soon as circumstances permit. My artillery is none too numerous now. I have only been able to send off some 1,200 sick. No transportation. There shall be no delay that I can avoid.

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

        Five batteries, with their horses and equipments complete, were embarked on the 7th and 8th, simultaneously with General Hooker's operations upon Malvern. I dispatched a cavalry force, under Colonel Averell, toward Savage Station to ascertain if the enemy were making any movements toward our right flank. He found a rebel cavalry regiment near White Oak Swamp Bridge and completely routed it, pursuing well toward Savage Station. These important preliminary operations assisted my preparations for the removal of the army to Aquia Creek, and the sending off our sick and supplies was pushed both day and night as rapidly as the means of transportation permitted.
        On the subject of the withdrawal of the army from Harrison's Landing the following correspondence passed between the General-in-Chief and myself while the reconnaissances toward Richmond were in progress:
        On the 2d of August I received the following:

Washington, August 2, 1862--3.45 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B McCLELLAN.

        You have not answered my telegram of July 30, 8 p.m., about the removal of your sick. Remove them as rapidly as possible and telegraph me when they will be out of your way. The President wishes an answer as early as possible.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General

        To which this reply was sent:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 3--11 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army, Washington, D.C.

        Your telegram of 2d is received. The answer to dispatch of July 30 was sent this morning. We have about 12,500 sick, of whom perhaps 4,000 might make easy marches. We have here the means to transport 1,200, and will embark to-morrow that number of the worst cases. With all the means at the disposal of the medical director the remainder could be shipped in from seven to ten days. It is impossible for me to decide what cases to send off, unless I know what is to be done with this army. Were the disastrous measures of a retreat adopted, all the sick who cannot march and fight should be dispatched by water. Should the army advance, many of the sick could be of service at the depots. If it is to remain here any length of time, the question assumes still a different phase.
        Until I am informed what is to be done I cannot act understandingly or for the good of the service. If I am kept longer in ignorance of what is to be effected, I cannot be expected to accomplish the object in view. In the mean time I will do all in my power to carry out what I conceive to be your wishes

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

        The moment I received the instructions for removing the sick I at once gave the necessary directions for carrying them out. With the small amount of transportation at hand the removal of the severe cases alone would necessarily take several days, and in the mean time I desired information to determine what I should do with the others. The order required me to send them away as quickly as possible, and to notify the General-in-Chief when they were removed.
        Previous to the receipt of the dispatch of the 2d of August, not having been advised of what the army under my command was expected to do, or which way it was to move, if it moved at all, I sent the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 3,1862.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Comdg. U. S. Army, Washington.

        I hear of sea steamers at Fort Monroe. Are they for removing my sick? If so, to what extent am I required to go in sending them off! There are not many who need go. As I am not in any way informed of the intentions of the Government in regard to this army, I am unable to judge what proportion of the sick should leave here, and must ask for specific orders.

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

        If the army was to retreat to Fort Monroe it was important that it should be unencumbered with any sick, wounded, or other men who might at all interfere with its mobility; but if the object was to operate directly on Richmond, from the position we then occupied, there were many cases of slight sickness which would speedily be cured and the patients returned to duty.
        As the service of every man would be important in the event of a forward offensive movement, I considered it to be of the utmost consequence that I should know what was to be done. It was to ascertain this that I sent the dispatch of 11 p.m. on the 3d, before receiving the following telegram:

Washington, August 3, 1862---7.45 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        I have waited most anxiously to learn the result of your forced reconnaissance toward Richmond, and also whether all your sick have been sent away, and I can get no answer to my telegram.
        It is determined to withdraw your army from the Peninsula to Aquia Creek. You will take immediate measures to effect this, covering the movement the best you can. Its real object and withdrawal should be concealed even from your own officers. Your material and transportation should be removed first. You will assume control of all the means of transportation within your reach, and apply to the naval forces for all the assistance they can render you. You will consult freely with the commander of these forces. The entire execution of the movement is left to your discretion and judgment.
        You will leave such forces as you may deem proper at Fort Monroe, Norfolk, and other places, which we must occupy.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General, Commanding U. S. Army.

        I proceeded to obey this order with all possible rapidity, firmly impressed, however, with the conviction that the withdrawal of the Army of the Potomac from Harrison's Landing, where its communications had by the co-operation of the gunboats been rendered perfectly secure, would, at that time, have the most disastrous effect upon our cause.
        I did not, as the commander of that army, allow the occasion to pass without distinctly setting forth my views upon the subject to the authorities in the following telegram:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 4, 1862--12 m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U.S. Army.

        Your telegram of last evening is received. I must confess that it has caused me the greatest pain I ever experienced, for I am convinced that the order to withdraw this army to Aquia Creek will prove disastrous to our cause. I fear it will be a fatal blow. Several days are necessary to complete the preparations for so important a movement as this, and while they are in progress I beg that careful consideration may be given to my statement.
        This army is now in excellent discipline and condition. We hold a debouche on both banks of the James River, so that we are free to act in any direction; and with the assistance of the gunboats I consider our communications as now secure. We are 25 miles from Richmond, and are not likely to meet the enemy in force sufficient to fight a battle until we have marched 15 to 18 miles, which brings us practically within 10 miles of Richmond. Our longest line of land transportation would be from this point 25 miles, but with the aid of the gunboats we can supply the army by water during its advance certainly to within 12 miles of Richmond. At Aquia Creek we would be 75 miles from Richmond, with land transportation all the way. From here to Fort Monroe is a march of about 70 miles, for I regard it as impracticable to withdraw this army and its material except by land. The result of the movement would thus be a march of 145 miles to reach a point now only 92 miles distant, and to deprive ourselves entirely of the powerful aid of the gunboats and water transportation. Add to this the certain demoralization of this army which would ensue, the terribly depressing effect upon the people of the North, and the strong probability that it would influence foreign powers to recognize our adversaries, and these appear to me sufficient reasons to make it my imperative duty to urge in the strongest terms afforded by our language that this order may be rescinded, and that far from recalling this army, it may be promptly re-enforced to enable it to resume the offensive.
        It may be said that there are no re-enforcements available. I point to Burnaide's force; to that of Pope, not necessary to maintain a strict defensive in front of Washington and Harper's Perry; to those portions of the Army of the West not required for a strict defensive there. Here, directly in front of this army, is the heart of the rebellion. It is here that all our resources should be collected to strike the blow which will determine the fate of the nation. All points of secondary importance elsewhere should be abandoned, and every available man brought here; a decided victory here and the military strength of the rebellion is crushed. It matters not what partial reverses we may meet with elsewhere. Here is the true defense of Washington. It is here, on the banks of the James, that the fate of the Union should be decided.
        Clear in my convictions of right, strong in the consciousness that I have ever been, and still am, actuated solely by the love of my country, knowing that no ambitious or selfish motives have influenced me from the commencement of this war, I do now what I never did in my life before, I entreat that this order may be rescinded.
        If my counsel does not prevail, I will with a sad heart obey your orders to the utmost of my power, directing to the movement, which I clearly foresee will be one of the utmost delicacy and difficulty, whatever skill I may possess. Whatever the result may be--and may God grant that I am mistaken in my forebodings--I shall at least have the internal satisfaction that I have written and spoken frankly, and have sought to do the best in my power to avert disaster from my country.

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

        Soon after sending this telegram I received the following in reply to mine of 11 p.m. of the 3d:

Washington, August 4, 1862--12.45 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        My telegram to you of yesterday will satisfy you in regard to future operations. It was expected that you would have sent off your sick as directed without waiting to know what were or would be the intentions of the Government respecting future movements. The President expects that the instructions which were sent you yesterday with his approval will be carried out with all possible dispatch and caution. The Quartermaster-General is sending to Fort Monroe all the transportation he can collect.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General

        To which the following is my reply:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 5, 1862--7 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Your telegram of yesterday received, and is being carried out as promptly as possible. With the means at my command no human power could have moved the sick in the time you say you expected them to be moved.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        My efforts for bringing about a change of policy were unsuccessful, as will be seen from the following telegram and letter received by me in reply to mine of 12 m. of the 4th:

Washington, August 5, 1862---12 m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        You cannot regret the order of the withdrawal more than I did the necessity of giving it. It will not be rescinded, and you will be expected to execute it with all possible promptness. It is believed that it can be done now without serious danger. This may not be so, if there should be any delay. I will write you my views more fully by mail.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General, Commanding U. S. Army.

 

        The letter was as follows:

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, August 6, 1862.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Commanding, &c., Berkeley, Va.

        GENERAL: Your telegram of yesterday was received this morning, and I immediately telegraphed you a brief reply, promising to write you more fully by mail.
        You, general, certainly could not have been more pained at receiving my order than I was at the necessity of issuing it. I was advised by high officers, in whose judgment I had great confidence, to make the order immediately on my arrival here, but I determined not to do so until I could learn your wishes from a personal interview; and even after that interview I tried every means in my power to avoid withdrawing your army, :,and delayed my decision as long as I dared to delay it. I assure you, general, it was not a hasty and inconsiderate act, but one that caused me more anxious thoughts than any other of my life; but after full and mature consideration of all the pros and cons, I was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that the order must be issued. There was to my mind no alternative.
        Allow me to allude to a few of the facts in the case. You and your officers at one interview estimated the enemy's forces in and around Richmond at 200,000 men. Since then you and others report that they have received and are receiving large re-enforcements from the South. General Pope's army covering Washington is only about 40,000. Your effective force is only about 90,000. You are 30 miles from Richmond, and General Pope 80 or 90, with the enemy directly between you, ready to fall with his superior numbers upon one or the other, as he may elect. Neither can re-enforce the other in case of such an attack.
        If General Pope's army be diminished to re-enforce you, Washington, Maryland, and Pennsylvania would be left uncovered and exposed. If your force be reduced to strengthen Pope, you would be too weak to even hold the position you now occupy should the enemy turn round and attack you in full force. In other words, the old Army of the Potomac is split into two parts, with the entire force of the enemy directly between them. They cannot be united land without exposing both to destruction, and yet they must be united. To send Pope's forces by water to the Peninsula is, under present circumstances, a military impossibility. The only alternative is to send the forces on the Peninsula to some point by water, say Fredericksburg, where the two armies can be united.
        Let me now allude to some of the objections which you have urged. You say that the withdrawal from the present position will cause the certain demoralization of the army, "which is now in excellent discipline and condition." I cannot understand why a simple change of position to a new and by no means distant base will demoralize an army in excellent discipline, unless the officers themselves assist in that demoralization, which I am satisfied they will not. Your change of front from your extreme right at Hanover Court-House to your present position was over 30 miles, but I have not heard that it demoralized your troops, notwithstanding the severe losses they sustained in effecting it. A new base on the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg brings you within about 60 miles of Richmond, and secures a re-enforcement of 40,000 or 50,000 fresh and disciplined troops. The change, with such advantages, will, I think, if properly represented to your army, encourage rather than demoralize your troops. Moreover, you yourself suggested that a junction might be effected at Yorktown, but that a flank march across the isthmus would be more hazardous than to retire to Fort Monroe. You will remember that Yorktown is 2 or 3 miles farther than Fredericksburg is. Besides, the latter is between Richmond and Washington, and covers Washington from any attack of the enemy. The political effect of the withdrawal may at first be unfavorable; but I think the public are beginning to understand its necessity, and that they will have much more confidence in a united army than in its separated fragments.
        But you will reply, why not re-enforce me here, so that I can strike Richmond from my present position? To do this you said at our interview that you required 30,000 additional troops. I told you that it was impossible to give you so many. You finally thought you would have "some chance" of success with 20,000. But you afterward telegraphed me that you would require 35,000, as the enemy was being largely re-enforced. If your estimate of the enemy's strength was correct, your requisition was perfectly reasonable, but it was utterly impossible to fill it until new troops could be enlisted and organized, which would require several weeks. To keep your army in its present position until it could be so re-enforced would almost destroy it in that climate. The months of August and September are almost fatal to whites who live on that part of James River, and even after you received the re-enforcements asked for, you admitted that you must reduce Fort Darling and the river batteries before you could advance on Richmond. It is by no means certain that the reduction of these fortifications would not require considerable time, perhaps as much as those at Yorktown. This delay might not only be fatal to the health of your army, but in the mean time General Pope's forces would be exposed to the heavy blows of the enemy without the slightest hope of assistance from you.
        In regard to the demoralizing effect of a withdrawal from the Peninsula to the Rappahannock I must remark that a large number of your highest officers, indeed a majority of those whose opinions have been reported to me, are decidedly in favor of the movement. Even several of those who originally advocated the line of the Peninsula now advise its abandonment.
        I have not inquired, and do not wish to know, by whose advice or for what reasons the Army of the Potomac was separated into two parts, with the enemy between them. I must take things as I find them. I find the forces divided, and I wish to unite them. Only one feasible plan has been presented for doing this. If you or any one else had presented a better plan I certainly should have adopted it. But all of your plans require re-enforcements, which it is impossible to give you. It is very easy to ask for re-enforcements, but it is not so easy to give them when you have no disposable troops at your command.
        I have written very plainly as I understand the case, and I hope you will give me credit for having fully considering the matter, although I may have arrived at very different conclusions from your own.

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

General-in-Chief.

On the 7th I received the following telegram:

Washington, August 7, 1862--10 a.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        You will immediately report the number of sick sent off since you received my order, the number still to be shipped, and the amount of transportation at your disposal; that is, the number of persons that can be carried on all the vessels which by my order you were authorized to control.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

To which I made this reply:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 7, 1862--10.40 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S.Army.

        In reply to your dispatch of 10 a.m. to-day I report the number of sick sent off since I received your order as follows: 3,740, including some that are embarked to-night and will leave in the morning. The number still to be shipped is, as nearly as can be ascertained, 5,700.
        The embarkation of five batteries of artillery, with their horses, wagons, &c., required most of our available boats, except the ferry-boats. All the transports that can ascend to this place have been ordered up; they will be here to-morrow evening. Colonel Ingalls reports to me that there are no transports now available for cavalry, and will not be for two or three days. As soon as they can be obtained I shall send off the First New York Cavalry.
        After the transports with sick and wounded have returned, including some heavy-draught steamers at Fort Monroe that cannel come to this point, we can transport 25,000 men at a time. We have some propellers here, but they are laden with commissary supplies and are not available.
        The transports now employed in transporting, sick and wounded will carry 12,000 well infantry soldiers. Those at Fort Monroe, and of too heavy draught to come here, will carry 8,000 or 10,000 infantry. Several of the largest steamers have been used for transporting prisoners of war, and have only become available for the sick to-day.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        The report of my Chief quartermaster upon the subject is as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Office of Chief Quartermaster, Harrison's Landing, August 7, 1862.

General R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff.

        GENERAL: I have the honor to return the papers herewith which you sent me with the following remarks:
        We are embarking five batteries of artillery., with their horses, baggage, &c., which requires the detailing of most of our available heats, except the ferry-boats. The medical department has ten or twelve of our largest transport vessels, Winch, if dispensible, could carry 12,000 men. Besides, there are some heavy-draught steamers at Fort Monroe that cannot come to this point, but which can carry 8,000 or 10,000 infantry.
        I have ordered all up here that can ascend to this depot. They will be here to-morrow evening. As it now is, after the details already made, we cannot transport from this place more than 5,000 infantry.
        There are no transports now available for cavalry. From and after to-morrow, if the vessels arrive, I could transport 10,000 infantry. In two or three days a regiment of cavalry can be sent if required. If you wait, and ship from Yorktown or Fort Monroe after the sick and wounded transports are at my disposal, we can transport 25,000 at a time. The number that can be transported is contingent on circumstances referred to. Most of the propellers here are laden with commissary or other supplies, and most of the tugs are necessary to tow off' sail craft also laden with supplies.

I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
RUFUS INGALLS,

Chief Quartermaster.

        On the 9th I received this dispatch:

Washington, August 9, 1862---12.45 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCleLLAN.

        I am of the opinion that the enemy is massing his forces in front of Generals Pope and Burnside, and that he expects to crush them and move forward to the Potomac. You must send re-enforcements instantly to Aquia Creek. Considering the amount of transportation at your disposal, your delay is not satisfactory. You must move with all possible celerity.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

        To which I sent the following reply:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 10, 1862--8 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Telegram of yesterday received. The batteries sent to Burnside took the last available transport yesterday morning. Enough have since arrived to ship one regiment of cavalry to-day. The sick are being embarked as rapidly as possible. There has been no unnecessary delay, as you assert--not an hour's--but everything has been and is being pushed as rapidly as possible to carry out your orders.

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

        The following report, made on the same day by the officer then in charge of the transports, exposes the injustice of the remark in the dispatch of the General-in-Chief, that "Considering the amount of transportation at your disposal, your delay is not satisfactory:"

ASSISTANT QUARTERMASTER'S OFFICE, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Harrison's Landing, Va., August 10, 1862.

General M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General U. S. Army, Washington.

        Colonel Ingalls, being himself ill, has requested me to telegraph to you concerning the state and capacity of the transports now here. On the night of the 8th I dispatched eleven steamers, principally small ones, and six schooners, with five batteries of heavy horse artillery, none of which have yet returned.
        Requisition is made this morning for transportation of 1,000 cavalry to Aquia Creek. All the schooners that had been chartered for carrying horses have been long since discharged or changed into freight vessels.
        A large proportion of the steamers now here are still loaded with stores, or are in the floating hospital service, engaged in removing the sick. To transport the 1,000 cavalry to-day will take all the available steamers now here not engaged in the service of the harbor. These steamers could take a large number of infantry, but are not well adapted to the carrying of horses, and much space is thus lost. Several steamers are expected here to-day, and we are unloading schooners rapidly. Most of these are not chartered, but are being taken for the service required, at same rates of pay as other chartered schooners. If you could cause a more speedy return of the steamers sent away from here it would facilitate matters.

C. O. SWATELLE,
Captain and Assistant Quartermaster, Commanding Depot.

        Our wharf facilities at Harrison's Landing were very limited, admitting but few vessels at one time. These were continually in use as long as there were disposable vessels, and the officers of the medical and quartermaster's departments, with all their available forces, were incessantly occupied day and night in embarking and sending off the sick men, troops, and material.
        Notwithstanding the repeated representations I made to the General-in-Chief that such were the facts, on the 10th I received the following:

Washington, August 10, 1862---12 p.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        The enemy is crossing the Rapidan in large force. They are fighting General Pope to-day. There must be no further delay in your movements. That which has already occurred was entirely unexpected, and must be satisfactorily explained. Let not a moment's time be lost, and telegraph me daily what progress you have made in executing the order to transfer your troops.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

        To which I sent this reply:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 10, 1862--11.30 p.m.

Commanding. Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Your dispatch of to-day is received. I assure you again that there has not been any unnecessary delay in carrying out your orders. You are probably laboring under some great mistake as to the amount of transportation available here. I have pushed matters to the utmost in getting off our sick and the troops you ordered to Burnside.
        Colonel Ingalls has more than once informed the Quartermaster-General of the condition of our water transportation. From the fact that you directed me to keep the order secret, 1 took it for granted that you would take the steps necessary to provide the requisite transportation.
        A large number of transports for all arms of service and for wagons should at once be sent to Yorktown and Fort Monroe.
        I shall be ready to move the whole army by land the moment the sick are disposed of. You may be sure that not an hour's delay will occur that can be avoided. I fear you do not realize the difficulty of the operation proposed.
        The regiment of cavalry for Burnside has been in course of embarkation to-day and to-night. Ten steamers were required for the purpose. Twelve hundred and fifty-eight sick loaded to-day and to-night. Our means exhausted, except one vessel returning to Fort Monroe in the morning, which will take some 500 cases of slight sickness.
        The present moment is probably not the proper one for me to refer to the unnecessarily harsh and unjust tone of your telegrams of late. It will, however, make no difference to my official action.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General,

        On the 11th this report was made:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 11, 1862---11.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U.S. Army.

        The embarkation of 850 cavalry and one brigade of infantry will be completed by at my disposal. Vessels loaded to their utmost capacity with stores, and others indispensable for service here, have been reported to you as available for carrying sick and well. I am sending off all that can be unloaded at Fort Monroe, to have them return here. I repeat that I have lost no time in carrying out your orders.

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

        On the same day I received the following from the quartermaster in charge of the depot:

ASSISTANT QUARTERMASTER'S OFFICE, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Harrison's Landing, August 11, 1862.

Lieut. Col. RUFUS INGALLS,
Aide-de-Camp and Chief Quatermaster, Army of the Potomac

        COLONEL: In reply to the communication from General Marcy, which was referred to me by you, I have to state that there are now in this harbor no disposable transports not already detailed, either for the use of the hospital department, for the transportation of the First New York Cavalry, or for the necessary service of the harbor. I think the steamers loading and to be loaded with cavalry could take in addition 3,000 infantry. These boats are, however, directed to leave as fast as they are loaded; some have already started. The embarkation of this cavalry regiment is going on very slowly, and it is not in my power to hurry the matter, although I have had several agents of the department and one commissioned officer at the wharf, to render all the assistance possible. The entire army is this morning turning in, to be stored on vessels, knapsacks, officers' baggage, and other surplus property, and with our limited wharf facilities it is impossible, unless the regular issues of forage, &c., are suspended, to avoid great confusion and delay with what is already ordered to be done. Of course, if any infantry is ordered to embark on these cavalry transports, the confusion and difficulties will be increased.
        I know of no boats that may be expected here to-day, except the South America and Fanny Cadwallader, a propeller which was ordered to be sent back from Fort Monroe.
        The transports with the artillery left for Aquia Creek on the night of the 8th and the morning of the 9th. They were ordered to return immediately.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. G. SWATELLE,

Captain and Assistant Quartermaster, Commanding Depot

        On the 12th I received the following:

Washington, August 12 1862--12 m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        The Quartermaster-General informs me that nearly every available steam vessel in the counter is now under your control. To send more from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York would interfere with the transportation of army supplies and break up the channels of travel by which we are to bring forward the new troops. Burnside moved nearly 13,000 troops to Aquia Creek in less than two days, and his transports were immediately sent back to you. All vessels in the James River and the Chesapeake Bay were placed at your disposal, and it was supposed that 8,000 or 10,000 of your men could be transported daily.
        In addition to steamers, there is a large fleet of sailing vessels which could be used as transports.
        The bulk of your material on shore it was thought could be sent to Fort Monroe, covered by that part of the army which could not get water transportation. Such were the views of the Government here. Perhaps we were misinformed as to the facts; if so, the delay could be explained. Nothing in my telegram was intent on harsh or unjust, but the delay was so unexpected that an explanation was required.. There has been and is the most urgent necessity for dispatch, and not a single moment must be lost in getting additional troops in front of Washington.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

        I telegraphed the following reply:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 12, 1862--11 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Your dispatch of noon to-day received. It is positively the fact that no more men could have been embarked hence than have gone, and that no unnecessary delay has occurred. Before your orders were received Colonel Ingalls directed all available vessels to come from Monroe. Officers have been sent to take personal direction. Have heard nothing here of Burnside's fleet.
        There are some vessels at Monroe, such as Atlantic and Baltic, which draw too much to come here. Hospital accommodations exhausted this side of New York. Propose filling Atlantic and Baltic with serious cases for New York, and to encamp slight oases for the present at Monroe. In this way can probably get off the 3,400 sick still on hand by day after to-morrow night.
        I am sure that you have been misinformed as to the availability of vessels on hand. We cannot use heavily-loaded supply vessels for troops or animals, and such constitute the mass of those here which have been represented to you as capable of transporting this army.
        I fear you will find very great delay in embarking troops and material at Yorktown and Monroe, both from want of vessels and of facilities of embarkation. At least two additional wharves should at once be built at each place. I ordered two at the latter some two weeks ago, but you countermanded the order.
        I learn that wharf accommodations at Aquia are altogether inadequate for landing troops and supplies to any large extent. Not an hour should be lost in remedying this.
        Great delay will ensue that from shallow water. You will find a vast deficiency in horse transports. We had nearly two hundred when we came here; I learn of only twenty provided slow; they carry about 50 horses each. More hospital accommodations should be provided. We are much impeded here because our wharves are used night and day to land current supplies. At Monroe a similar difficulty will occur.
        With all the facilities at Alexandria and Washington six weeks, about, were occupied in embarking this army and its material.
        Burnside's troops are not a fair criterion for rate of embarkation. All his means were in hand, his outfit specially prepared for the purpose, and his men habituated to the movement.
        There shall be no unnecessary delay, but I cannot manufacture vessels. I state these difficulties from experience, and because it appears to me that we have been lately working at cross purposes because you have not been properly informed by those around you, who ought to know the inherent difficulties of such an undertaking. It is not possible for any one to place this army where you wish it, ready to move, in less than a month. If Washington is in danger now this army can scarcely arrive in time to save it. It is in much better position to do so from here than from Aquia.
        Our material can only be saved by using the whole army to cover it if we are pressed. If sensibly weakened by detachments the result might be the lees of much material and many men. I will be at the telegraph office to-morrow morning to talk with you.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major General.

        To the reasons given in the foregoing dispatch to show why General Burnside's movement from Fort Monroe was not a fair criterion for our operations the following may be added:
        He was not encumbered by either sick or wounded men. He had no cavalry, artillery, wagons, or teams. His force consisted of infantry alone, with a few ambulances and officers' horses. His baggage was already on the transports, where it had remained since his arrival from North Carolina, and his men had only to resume their places on board.
        The cavalry and artillery mentioned in my dispatches of the 7th, 10th, and 11th were sent to supply his total deficiency in those arms.
        I may also repeat that the vessels used by General Burnside had not returned from Aquia Creek when the army left Harrison's Bar.
        It will be seen by the concluding paragraph of the foregoing dispatch that in order to have a more direct, speedy, and full explanation of the condition of affairs in the army than I could by sending a single dispatch by steamer to the nearest telegraph office at Jamestown Island, some 70 miles distant, and waiting ten hours for a reply, I proposed to go in person to the office. This I did. On my arrival at Jamestown Island there was an interruption in the electric current, which rendered it necessary for me to continue on to Fort Monroe and across the Chesapeake Bay to Cherrystone Inlet, on the Eastern Shore, where I arrived late in the evening, and immediately sent the annexed dispatches:

CHERRYSTONE, August 13, 1862---11.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington
.

        Please come to office; wish to talk to you. What news from Pope?

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

CHERRYSTONE INLET, August 14, 1862--12.30 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington.

        Started to Jamestown Island to talk with you; found cable broken and came here. Please read my long telegram. (See above dispatch of August 12--11 p.m.). All quiet at camp. Enemy burned wharves at City Point yesterday. No rebel pickets within 8 miles of Coggins' Point yesterday. Richmond prisoners state that large force, with guns, left Richmond northward on Sunday.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General

        To which the following reply was received:

WASHINGTON, August 14, 1862--1.40 a.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        I have read your dispatch. There is no change of plans. You will send up your troops as rapidly as possible. There is no difficulty In landing them. According to your own accounts, there is now no difficulty in withdrawing your forces. Do with all possible rapidity.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

        Before I had time to decipher and reply to this dispatch the telegraph operator in Washington informed me that General Halleck had gone out of the office immediately after writing this dispatch, without leaving any intimation of the fact for me, or waiting for any further information as to the object of my journey across the bay. As there was no possibility of other communication with him at that time I sent the following dispatch, and returned to Harrison's Landing:

CHERRYSTONE INLET, August 14, 1862---1.40 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Your orders will be obeyed. I return at once. I had hoped to have had a longer and fuller conversation with you after traveling so far for the purpose.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

        On the 14th and 15th, and before we had been able to embark all our sick men, two army corps were put in motion toward Fort Monroe. This was reported in the annexed dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 14, 1862--11 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Movement has commenced by land and water. All sick will be away to-morrow night. Everything being done to carry out your orders. I don't like Jackson's movements. He will suddenly appear when least expected. Will telegraph fully and understandingly in the morning.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

        The phrase "movement has commenced," it need not be remarked, referred obviously to the movement of the main army after completing the necessary preliminary movements of the sick, &c. The perversion of the term to which the General-in Chief saw fit to give currency in a letter to the Secretary of War should have been here rendered impossible by the dispatches which precede this, of the 14th, which show that the movement really began immediately after the receipt of the order of August 4.
        The progress made in the movement of the 15th was reported in the following dispatches:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 15, 1862---12 m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Colonel Ingalls this moment reports that after embarking the remaining brigade of McCall's division with the sick, who are constantly accumulating, the transports now disposable will be all consumed.
        Two of my army corps marched last night and this morning en route for Yorktown--one via Jones' Brigade and the other via Barrett's Ferry, where we have a pontoon bridge. The other corps will be pushed forward as fast as the roads are clear, and I hope before to-morrow morning to have the entire army in motion.
        A report has just been received from my pickets that the enemy in force is advancing on us from the Chickahominy, but I do not credit it; shall know soon. Should any more transports arrive here before my departure, and the enemy do not show such a force in our front as to require all the troops I have remaining to insure the safety of the land movement with its immense train, I shall send every man by water that transports will carry.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC;
Berkeley, August 15, 1862--1.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        The advance corps and trains are fairly started.  I learn nothing more in relation to reported advance of rebels via Jones' Bridge. Shall push the movement as rapidly as possible.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Berkeley, August 15, 1862---10 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Coggins' Point is abandoned. The whole of McCall's division, with its artillery, is now en route for Burnside. We have not yet transportation sufficient for our sick. I hope we will get it to-morrow.
        Porter is across the Chickahominy, near its month, with his wagons and reserve artillery. Heintzelman at Jones' Bridge with a portion of his corps. They- will all be up by morning. Averell's cavalry on the other side. All quiet thus far. I cannot get the last of the wagons as far as Charles City Court-House before some time to-morrow afternoon.
        I am hurrying matters with the utmost rapidity possible. Wagons will move all night.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        After the commencement of the movement it was continued with the utmost rapidity until all the troops and material were en route both by land and water on the morning of the 16th, Late in the afternoon of that day, when the last man had disappeared from the deserted camps, I followed with my personal staff in the track of the Grand Army of the Potomac, bidding farewell to the scenes still covered with the marks of its presence, and to be forever memorable in history as the vicinity of its most brilliant exploits. Previous to the departure of the troops I had directed Captain Duane, of the Engineer Corps, to proceed to Barrett's Ferry, near the mouth of the Chickahominy, and throw across the river at that point a pontoon bridge. This was executed promptly and satisfactorily under the cover of gunboats, and an excellent bridge of about 2,000 feet in length was ready for the first arrival of troops. The greater part of the army, with its artillery, wagon trains, &c., crossed it rapidly and in perfect order and safety, so that on the night of the 17th everything was across the Chickahominy except the rear guard, which crossed early on the morning of the 18th, when the pontoon bridge was immediately removed.
        General Porter's corps, which was the first to march from Harrison's Landing, had been pushed forward rapidly, and on the 16th reached Williamsburg, where I had directed him to halt until the entire army was across the Chickahominy. On his arrival at Williamsburg, however, he received an intercepted letter, which led to the belief that General Pope would have to contend against a very heavy force then in his front. General Porter therefore very properly took the responsibility of continuing his march directly on to Newport News, which place he reached on the morning of the 18th of August, having marched his corps 60 miles in the short period of three days and one night, halting one day at the crossing of the Chickahominy.
        The embarkation of this corps commenced as soon as transports were ready, and on the 20th it had all sailed for Aquia Creek. I made the following report from Barrctt's Ferry:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Barrett's Ferry, Chickahominy, August 17, 1862--11 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK Comdg. U. S. Army,
Washington, D.C.

        Everything is removed from our camp at Harrison's Bar. No property or men left behind. The Fifth Corps is at Williamsburg, with all its wagons and the reserve artillery. The Third Corps is on the march from Jones, Bridge to Williamsburg via Diascund Bridge, and has probably passed the latter before this hour. Averell's cavalry watches everything in that direction, The mass of the wagons have passed the pontoon bridge here and are parked on the other side. Peck's wagons are now crossing; his division will soon be over. Headquarters wagons follow Peck's. I hope to have everything over to-night and the bridge removed by daylight. May be delayed beyond that time. Came here to see Burnside, otherwise should have remained with the rear guard. Thus far all is quiet, and not a shot that I know of since we began the march. I shall not feel entirely secure until I have the whole army beyond the Chickahominy. I will then begin to forward troops by water as fast as transportation permits.

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

        On the 18th and 19th our march was continued to Williamsburg and Yorktown, and on the 20th the remainder of the army was ready to embark at Yorktown, Fort Monroe, and Newport News. The movement of the main body of the army on this march was covered by General Pleasonton with his cavalry and horse artillery. That officer remained at Haxall's until the army had passed Charles City CourtHouse, when he gradually fell back, picking up the stragglers as he proceeded, and crossed the bridge over the Chickahominy after the main body had marched toward Williamsburg. His troops were the last to cross the bridge, and he deserves great credit for the manner in which he performed this duty. General Averell did a similar service, in the same satisfactory way, in covering the march of the Third Corps.
        As the campaign on the Peninsula terminated here, I cannot close this part of my report without giving an expression of my sincere thanks and gratitude to the officers and men whom I had the honor to command.
        From the commencement to the termination of this most arduous campaign the Army of the Potomac always evinced the most perfect subordination, zeal, and alacrity in the performance of all the duties required of it. The amount of severe labor accomplished by this army in the construction of intrenchments, roads, bridges, &c., was enormous ; yet all the work was performed with the most gratifying cheerfulness and devotion to the interests of the service. During the campaign ten severely-contested and sanguinary battles had been fought, besides numerous smaller engagements, in which the troops exhibited the most determined enthusiasm and bravery, They submitted to exposure, sickness, and even death without a murmur. Indeed, they had become veterans in their country's cause, and richly deserved the warm commendation of the Government.
        It was in view of these facts that this seemed to me an appropriate occasion for the General-in-Chief to give in general orders some appreciative expression of the services of the army while upon the Peninsula. Accordingly on the 18th I sent him the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 15, 1862---11 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Please say a kind word to my army, that I can repeat to them in general orders, in regard to their conduct at Yorktown, Williamsburg, West Point-Hanover Court-House, and on the Chickahominy, as well as in regard to the Seven Days and the recent retreat. No one has ever said anything to cheer them but myself. Say nothing about me. Merely give my men and officers credit for what they have done. It will do you much good, and will strengthen you much with them if you issue a handsome order to them regard to what they have accomplished. They deserve it.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        As no reply was received to this communication, and no order was issued by the General-in-Chief, I conclude that suggestion did not meet with his approbation.
        All the personnel and material of the army had been transferred from Harrison's Landing to the different points of embarkation in the very brief period of five days without the slightest loss or damage. Porter's troops sailed from Newport News on the 19th and 20th. Heintzelman's corps sailed from Yorktown on the 21st On that day I received the following telegram from the General-in-Chief:

WASHINGTON, August 21, 1862--6 p.m.

General McCLELLAN.

        Leave such garrisons in Fort Monroe, Yorktown, &c., as you may deem proper. They will be replaced by new troops as rapidly as possible.
        The forces of Burnside and Pope are hard pushed, and require aid as rapidly as you can send it. Come yourself as soon as you can.
        By all means see that the troops sent have plenty of ammunition. We have no time here to supply them. Moreover, they may have to fight as soon as they land.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General, Commanding U. S. Army.

To which the following are replies:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Fort Monroe, August 21, 1862--7.30 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Your dispatch of 6 p.m. received. I have not lost an hour in sending troops, nor will I. Franklin is here, and I will try to get some of his troops on board to-night. I had already ordered all the ammunition forward.
        I will put headquarters on board ship early to-morrow morning, so that I can leave at a moment's notice. I hope that I can get off' to-morrow. Shall I go in person to Aquia, or do you wish to see me first at Washington? If you wish it, I can probably ship quite an amount of ammunition for other troops than this army.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Fort Monroe, August 21, 1862--10.25 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington.

        I have ample supplies of ammunition for infantry and artillery, and will have it up in time. I can supply any deficiency that may exist in General Pope's army. Quite a number of rifled field guns are on hand here.
        The forage is the only question for you to attend to. Please have that ready for me at Aquia. I want many more schooners for cavalry horses. They should have water on hand when they come here.
        If you have leisure, and there is no objection, please communicate to me fully the state of affairs and your plans. I will then be enabled to arrange details understandingly.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        Immediately on reaching Fort Monroe I gave directions for strengthening the defenses of Yorktown to resist any attack from the direction of Richmond, and left General Keyes, with his corps, to perform the work and temporarily garrison the place.
        I telegraphed as follows on the 22d:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Fort Monroe, August 22, 1862---2.15 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Dispatch of to-day received. Franklin's corps is embarking as rapidly as possible. Summer's corps is at Newport News, ready to embark as fast as transportation arrives Keyes is still at Yorktown, putting it in a proper state of defense. I think that all of Franklin's corps will get off to-day, and hope to commence with Sumner to-morrow I shall then push off the cavalry and wagons.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Fort Monroe, August 22, 1862--3.40 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Two good ordnance sergeants are needed immediately at Yorktown and Gloucester. The new defenses are arranged and commenced.
        I recommend that 5,000 new troops be sent immediately to garrison York and Gloucester. They should be commanded by an experienced general officer, who can discipline and instruct them. About 900 should be artillery. I recommend that a new regiment, whose colonel is an artillery officer or graduate, be designated as heavy artillery, and sent there. A similar regiment is absolutely necessary here.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On the 23d Franklin's corps sailed. I reported this in the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Fort Monroe, August 23, 1862--1.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Franklin's corps has started. I shall start for Aquia in about half an hour. No transports yet for Sumner's corps.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On that evening I sailed with my staff' for Aquia Creek, where I arrived at daylight on the following morning, reporting as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Aquia Creek, August 24, 1862--[6 a.m. ].

Major-General HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        I have reached here, and respectfully report for orders.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        I also telegraphed as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY 0F THE POTOMAC,
Aquia Creek, August 24, 18'2--2 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Your telegram received. Morell's scouts report Rappahannock Station burned and abandoned by Poe without an notice to Morell or Sykes This was telegraphed you some hours ago. Reynolds, Reno, and Stevens are supposed to be with Pope, as nothing can be heard of them to-day. Morell and Sykes are near Morrisville Post Office, watching the lower fords of the Rappahannock, with no troops between them and Rappahannock Station, which is reported abandoned by Pope. Please inform me immediately exactly where Pope is and what doing; until I know that I cannot regulate Porter's movements. He is much exposed now, and decided measures should be taken at once. Until I know what my command and position are to be, and whether you still intend to place me in the command indicated in your first letter to me and orally through General Burnside at the Chickahominy, I cannot decide where I can be of most use. If your determination is unchanged I ought to go to Alexandria at once. Please define my position and duties.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major'-General.

        To which I received the following reply:

Washington, August. 24, 1862---11.10 p.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        You ask me for information which I cannot give. I do not know either where General Pope is or where the enemy in force is. These are matters which I have all day been most anxious to ascertain.

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

On the 26th I received the following:

Washington, August 26, 1862--11 a.m.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

        There is reason to believe that the enemy is moving a large force into the Shenandoah Valley. Reconnaissances will soon determine. General Heintzelman's corps was ordered to report to General Pope, and Kearny will probably be sent to-day against the enemy's flank. Don't draw any troops down the Rappahannock at present; we shall probably want them all in the direction of the Shenandoah. Perhaps you had better leave General Burnside in charge at Aquia Creek and come to Alexandria, as very great irregularities are reported there. General Franklin's corps will march as soon as it receives transportation.

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

        On receipt of this I immediately sailed for Alexandria, and reported as follows:

ALEXANDER, August 27, 1862---8 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U.S. Army.

        I arrived here last night, and have taken measures to ascertain the state of affairs here, and that proper remedies may be applied. Just received a rumor that railway bridge over Bull Run was burned last night.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862--9.40 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        The town is quiet, although quite full of soldiers, who are said to be Chiefly convalescents. The affairs of the quartermaster's department are reported as going on well. It is said that the Bull Run Bridge will be repaired to-morrow. The disembarkation of Sumner's corps commenced at Aquia yesterday afternoon. I found that he could reach Rappahannock Station earlier that way than from here.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On the same day I received the following:

Washington, August 27, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        Telegrams from General Porter to General Burnside, just received, say that Banks is at Fayetteville; McDowell, Sigel, and Ricketts near Warrenton; Reno on his right. Porter is marching on Warrenton Junction to re-enforce Pope. Nothing said of Heintzelman. Porter reports a general battle imminent. Franklin's corps should move out by forced marches, carrying three or four days' provisions, and to be supplied as far as possible by railroad. Perhaps you may prefer some other road than to Centreville. Colonel Haupt has Just telegraphed about sending out troops. Please see him, and give him your directions. There has been some serious neglect to guard the railroad, which should be immediately remedied.

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

        I replied as follows:

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862---10 a.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Telegram this moment received. I have sent orders to Franklin to prepare to march with his corps at once, and to repair here in person to inform me as to his means of transportation.
        Kearny was yesterday at Rappahannock Station, Porter at Bealeton, Kelly's, Barnett's, &c. Sumner will commence reaching Falmouth to-day. Williams' Massachusetts cavalry will be mostly at Falmouth to-day.
        I loaned Burnside my personal escort (one squadron Fourth Regulars) to scout down Rappahannock.
        I have sent for Couch's division to come at once. As fast as I gain any information I will forward it, although you may already have it.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

I also received the following telegrams:

Washington, August 27, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        Direct General Casey to furnish you about 5,000 of the new troops under his command.
        Take entire direction of the sending out of the troops from Alexandria.
        Determine questions of priority in transportation, and the places they shall occupy.
        Pope's headquarters are near Warrenton Junction, but I cannot ascertain the present position of his troops.

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

Washington, August 27, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        I can get no satisfactory information from the front, either of the enemy or of our troops. There seems to have been great neglect and carelessness about Manassas. Franklin's corps should march in that direction as soon as possible. A competent officer should be sent out to take direction of affairs in that vicinity.

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

        Upon the receipt of these I immediately sent the following telegram to Generals Heintzelman and Porter:

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862--10.30 a.m.

Major-General HEINTZELMAN,
Warrenton.

        Where are you and what is state of affairs--what troops in your front, right, and left? Sumner is now landing at Aquia. Where is Pope's left, and what of enemy? Enemy burned Bull Run Bridge last night with cavalry force.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

Major-General POUTER,
Bealeton.

        P. S.--If these general officers are not at the places named, nearest operator will please have message forwarded.

        I also telegraphed to the General-in-Chief as follows:

ALEXANDRIA, August 27,!862--10.50 a.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Commanding U.S. Army.

        I have sent all the information I possess to Burnside, instructing him to look out well for his right flank between the Rappahannock and Potomac, and to send no trains to Porter without an escort. I fear the cavalry who dashed at Bull Run last night may trouble Burnside a little. I have sent to Communicate with Porter and Heintzelman via Falmouth, and hope to give you some definite information in a few hours. I shall land the next cavalry I get hold of here, and send it out to keep open the communication between Pope and Porter, also to watch vicinity of Manassas. Please send me a number of copies of the best maps of present field of operations. I can use fifty to advantage.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862--11.20 a.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

In view of Burnside's dispatch, just received, would it not be advisable to throw the mass of Sumner's corps here to move out with Franklin Centreville or vicinity? If a decisive battle is fought at Warrenton, a disaster would leave any troops on Lower Rappahannock in a dangerous position. They would do better service in front of Washington.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862-12.05 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington..

        My aide has just returned from General Franklin's camp; reports that Generals Franklin, Smith, and Slocum are all in Washington. He gave the order to the next in rank to place the corps in readiness to move at once. I learn that heavy firing has been heard this morning at Centreville, and have sent to ascertain the truth. I can find no cavalry to send out on the roads. Are the works garrisoned and ready for defense?

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

 

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862---12.20 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Washington.

        What bridges exist over Bull Run? Have steps been taken to construct bridges for the advance of troops to re-enforce Pope or to enable him to retreat if in trouble?
        There should be two gunboats at Aquia Creek at once. Shall I push the rest of Sumner's corps here, or is Pope so strong as to be reasonably certain of success? I have sent to inspect the works near here and their garrisons.
        As soon as I can find General Casey or some other commanding officer, I will see to the railway, &c. It would be well to have them report to me, as I do not know where they are. I am trying to find them, and will lose no time in carrying out your orders. Would like to see Barnard.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862--1.15 p.m.

Major General HALLECK,
Washington
.

        Franklin's artillery have no horses except for four guns without caissons. I can pick up no cavalry. In view of these facts, will it not be well to push Sumner's corps here by water as rapidly as possible, to make immediate arrangements for placing the works in front of Washington in an efficient condition of defense! I have no means of knowing the enemy's force between Pope and ourselves.
        Can Franklin, without his artillery or cavalry, effect any useful purpose in front? Should not Burnside take steps at once to evacuate Falmouth and Aquia, at the same time covering the retreat of any of Pope's troops who may fall back in that direction?
        I do not see that we have force enough in hand to form a connection with Pope, whose exact position we do not know. Are we safe in the direction of the valley?

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862---1.35 p.m.

General HALLECK.

        I learn that Taylor's brigade, sent this morning to Bull Run Bridge, is either cut to pieces or captured; that the force against them had many guns and about 5,000 infantry, receiving re-enforcements every minute; also that Gainesville is in possession of the enemy. Please send some cavalry out toward Dranesville, via Chain Bridge, to watch Lewinsville and Dranesville, and go as far as they can. If you will give me even one squadron of good cavalry here, I will ascertain the state of the case. I think our policy now is to make these works perfectly safe, and mobilize a couple of corps as soon as possible, but not to advance them until they can have their artillery and cavalry. I have sent for Colonel Tyler to place his artillerymen in the works.
        Is Fort Marcy securely held?

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

ALEXANDRIA; August 27, 1862--2.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        Sumner has been ordered to send here all of his corps that are within reach. Orders have been sent to Couch to come here from Yorktown with the least possible delay. But one squadron of my cavalry has arrived; that will be disembarked at once and sent to the front.
        If there is any cavalry in Washington it should be ordered to report to me at once. I still think that we should first provide for the immediate defense of Washington on both sides of the Potomac.
        I am not responsible for the past, and cannot be for the future, unless I receive authority to dispose of the available troops according to my judgment. Please inform me at once what my position is. I do not wish to act in the dark.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

ALEXANDRIA, August 27, 1862--6 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army.

        I have just received the copy of a dispatch from General Pope to you, dated 10 a.m. this morning, in which he says: "All forces now sent forward should be sent to my right at Gainesville." I now have at my disposal here about 10,000 men of Franklin's corps, about 2,800 of General Tyler's brigade, and Colonel Tyler's First Connecticut Artillery, which I recommend should be held in hand for the defense of Washington. If you wish me to order any part of this force to the front, it is in readiness to march at a moment's notice to any point you may indicate. In view of the existing state of things in our front, I have deemed it best to order General Casey to hold his man for Yorktown in readiness to move, but not to send them off till further orders.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On the 28th I telegraphed as follows:

HEADQUARTERS CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 28, 1862--4.10 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington,
D.C.

        General Franklin is with me here. I will know in a few minutes the condition of artillery and cavalry. We are not yet in condition to move; may be by to-morrow morning. Pope must cut through to-day or adopt the plan I suggested. I have ordered troops to garrison the works at Upton's hill. They must be held at any cost. As soon as I can see the way to spare them I will send a corps of good troops there. It is the key to Washington, which cannot be seriously menaced as long as it is held.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

        I received the following from the General-in-Chief:

WASHINGTON, August 28, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        I think you had better place Sumner's corps as it arrives near the fortifications, and particularly at the Chain Bridge. The principal thing to be feared now is a cavalry raid into this city, especially in the night-time. Use Cox's and Tyler's brigades and the new troops for the same object, if you need them. Porter writes to Burnside from Bristoe, 9.30 a.m. yesterday, that Pope's forces were then moving on Manassas, and that Burnside would soon hear of them by way of Alexandria. General Cullum has gone to Harpers Ferry, and I have only a single regular officer for duty in the office. Please send some of your officers to-day to see that every precaution is taken at the forts against a raid; also at the bridge. Please answer.

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

        On the 29th the following dispatch was telegraphed:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA
August 29, 1862---10.30 a.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        Franklin's corps is in motion; started about 6 a.m. I can give him but two squadrons of cavalry. I propose moving General Cox to Upton's hill to hold that important point with its works, and to push cavalry scouts to Vienna, via Freedom hill and Hunter's Lane. Cox has two squadrons of cavalry. Please answer at once whether this meets your approval. I have directed Woodbury, with the Engineer Brigade, to hold Fort Lyon. Sumner detached last night two regiments to vicinity of Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy. Meagher's brigade is still at Aquia. If he moves in support of Franklin, it leaves us without any reliable troops in and near Washington. Yet Franklin is too weak alone. What shall be done! No more cavalry arrived; have but three squadrons. Franklin has but 40 rounds of ammunition, and no wagons to move more. I do not think Franklin is in condition to accomplish much if he meets with serious resistance. I should not have moved him but for your pressing order of last night. What have you from Vienna and Dranesville!

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        To which the following is a reply:

WASHINGTON, August 29, 1862--12 m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        Upton's hill arrangement all right. We must send wagons and ammunition to Franklin as fast as they arrive. Meagher's brigs, were ordered up yesterday. Fitzhugh Lee was, it is said on good authority, in Alexandria on Sunday last for three hours. I have nothing from Dranesville.

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

        On the same day the following was received from his Excellency the President:

Washington, August 29, 1862---2..30 p.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        What news from direction of Manassas Junction? What generally!

A. LINCOLN.

        To which I replied as follows:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 29, 1862--2.45 p.m.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President.

        The last news I received from the direction of Manassas was from stragglers, to the effect that the enemy were evacuating Centreville and retiring toward Thoroughfare Gap. This by no means reliable.
        I am clear that one of two courses should be adopted: First, to concentrate all our available forces to open communications with Pope; Second, to leave Pope to get out of his scrape, and at once use all our means to make the capital perfectly safe.
        No middle ground will now answer. Tell me what you wish me to do, and I will do all in my power to accomplish it. I wish to know what my orders and authority are. I ask for nothing, but will obey whatever orders you give. I only ask a prompt decision, that I may at once give the necessary orders. It will not do to delay longer.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        And copy to General Halleck.
        To which the following is a reply:

WASHINGTON, August 29, 1862--4.10 p.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        Yours of to-day just received. I think your first alternative, to wit, "to concentrate all our available forces to open communication with Pope," is the right one, but I wish not to control. That I now leave to General Halleck, aided by your counsels.

A. LINCOLN.

        It had been officially reported to me from Washington that the enemy in strong force was moving through Vienna in the direction of the Chain Bridge, and had a large force in Vienna. This report, in connection with the dispatch of the General-in-Chief on the 28th, before noted, induced me to direct Franklin to halt his command near Annandale until it Could be determined by reconnaissances to Vienna and toward Manassas whether these reports were true. General Cox was ordered to send his small cavalry force from Upton's hill toward Vienna and Dranesville in one direction and toward Fairfax Court-House in the other and Franklin to push his two squadrons as far toward Manassas as possible, in order to ascertain the true position of the enemy. With the enemy in three at Vienna and toward Lewinsville it would have been very injudicious to have pushed Franklin's small force beyond Annandale. It must be remembered that at that time we were cut off from direct communication with General Pope; that the enemy was, by the last accounts, at Manassas in strong force, and that Franklin had only from 10,000 to 11,000 men, with an entirely insufficient force of cavalry and artillery.
        In order to represent this condition of affairs in its proper light to the General-in Chief, and to obtain definite instructions from him, I telegraphed as follows:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 29, 1862--12 m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington
.

        Have ordered most of the Twelfth Pennsylvania Cavalry to report to General Barnard for scouting duty toward Rockville, Poolesville, &c.
        If you apprehend a raid of cavalry on your side of river, I had better send a brigade or two of Sumner's to near Tennallytown, where, with two or three old regiments in Forts Allen and Marcy, they can watch both Chain Bridge and Tennallytown.
        Would it meet your views to post the rest of Sumner's corps between Arlington and Fort Corcoran, whence they can either Support Cox, Franklin, or Chain Bridge, and even Tennallytown?
        Franklin has only between 10,000 and 11,000 for duty.
        How far do you wish this force to advance?

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA.,
August 29, 1862---1 p.m.

General HALLECK.

        I anxiously await reply to my last dispatch in regard to Sumner. Wish to give the order at once.
        Please authorize me to attach new regiments permanently to my old brigades. I can do much good to old and new troops in that way. I shall endeavor to hold a line in advance of Forts Allen and Marcy--at least with strong advance guards. I wish to hold the line through Prospect hill, Mackall's, Minor's, and Hall's Hill. This will give us timely warning. Shall I do as seems best to me with all the troops in this vicinity, including Franklin, who I really think ought not, under present circumstances, to advance beyond Annandale?

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On the same day I received a dispatch from the General-in-Chief, in which he asks me why I halted Franklin in Annandale, to which I replied as follows:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA, August 29, 1869.---8 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington, D.C.

        By referring to my telegrams of 10.30 a.m., 12 m., and I p.m., together with your reply of 2.48 p.m., you will see why Franklin's corps halted at Annandale. His small cavalry force--all I had to give him--was ordered to push on as far as possible toward Manassas. It was not safe for Franklin to move beyond Annandale, under the circumstances, until we knew what was at Vienna.
        General Franklin remained here until about 1 p.m., endeavoring to arrange for supplies for his command. I am responsible for both these circumstances, and do not see that either was in disobedience to your orders. Please give distinct orders in reference to Franklin's movements of to-morrow.
        I have send to Colonel Haupt to push out construction and supply trains as soon as possible; General Tyler to furnish the necessary guards.
        I have directed General Banks' supply trains to start out to-night at least as far as Annandale with an escort from General Tyler.
        In regard to to-morrow's movements I desire definite instructions, as it is not agreeable to me to be accused of disobeying orders when I have simply exercised the discretion you committed to me.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        On the same evening I sent the following dispatches:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 29, 1862--10 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington.

        Not hearing from you, I have sent orders to General Franklin to place himself in communication with General Pope as soon as possible, and at the same time cover the transit of Pope's supplies. Orders have been given for railway and wagon trains to move to Pope with least possible delay.
        I am having inspections made of all the forts around the city by members of my staff, with instructions to give all requisite orders. I inspected Worth and Ward myself this evening; found them in good order. Reports, so far as heard from, are favorable as to condition of works.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 29, 1862--10 p.m.

General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.

        Your dispatch received. Franklin's corps has been ordered to march at 6 o'clock to-morrow morning. Sumner has about 14,000 infantry, without cavalry or artillery., here. Cox's brigade of four regiments is here, with two batteries of artillery. Men of two regiments, much fatigued, came in to-day. Tyler's brigade of three new regiments, but little drilled, is also here. All these troops will be ordered to hold themselves ready to march to-morrow morning, and all except Franklin's to await further orders. If you wish any of them to move toward Manassas please inform me.
        Colonel Waagner, Second New York Artillery, has Just come in from the front. He reports strong infantry and cavalry force of rebels near Fairfax Court-House. Reports rumors from various sources that Lee and Stuart, with large forces, are at Manassas; that the enemy with 1'20,000 men intend advancing on the forts near Arlington and Chain Bridge, with a view of attacking Washington and Baltimore.
        General Barnard telegraphs me to-night that the length of the line of fortifications on this side of the Potomac requires 2,000 additional artillerymen, and additional troops to defend intervals, according to circumstances. At all events, he says, an old regiment should be added to the force at Chain Bridge, and a few regiments distributed along the lines, to give confidence to our new troops. I agree with him fully, mad think our fortifications along the upper part of our line on this side of the river very unsafe with their present garrisons, and the movements of the enemy seem to indicate an attack upon those works.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 30, 1862--11.30 a.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
General-in-Chief.

        Your telegram of  9 a.m. received. Ever since General Franklin received notice that be was to march from Alexandria he has been endeavoring to get transportation from the quartermaster at Alexandria, but he has uniformly been told that there was none disposable; and his command marched without wagons. After the departure of his corps, he procured twenty wagons to carry some extra ammunition by unloading Banks' supply train.
        General Sumner endeavored, by application upon the Quartermaster's Department, to get wagons to carry his reserve ammunition, but without success, and was obliged to march with what he could carry in his cartridge boxes.
        1 have this morning directed that all my headquarters wagons that are landed be at once loaded with ammunition for Sumner and Franklin, but they will not go far toward supplying the deficiency.
        Eighty-five wagons were got together by the quartermasters last night: loaded with subsistence, and sent forward at 1 a.m. with all escort via Annandale. Every effort has been made to carry out your orders promptly. The great difficulty seems to consist in the fact that the greater part of the transportation on hand at Alexandria and Washington has been needed for current supplies of the garrisons. Such is the star,, of the case as represented to me by the quartermasters, and it appears to be true. I take it for granted that this has not been properly explained to you.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

        On the morning of the 30th heavy artillery firing was heard in the direction of Fairfax Court-House, which I reported to the General-in Chief.
        At 11 a.m. the following telegram was sent:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 30, 1862---11 a.m.

Major-General HALLECK,
Washington.

        Have ordered Sumner to leave one brigade in vicinity of Chain Bridge, and to move the rest via Columbia pike on Annandale and Fairfax Court-House. Is this the route you wish them to take? He and Franklin are both instructed to join Pope as promptly as possible. Shall Couch move out also when he arrives!

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

On the same day I received the following:

Washington, August 30, 1862---1.45 p.m.

General McCLELLAN.

        Ammunition, and particularly for artillery, must be immediately sent forward to Centreville for General Pope. It must be done with all possible dispatch.

H. W. HALLECK.

To which this reply was made:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 30, 1862---2.10 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK

        I know nothing of the calibers of Pope's artillery. All I can do is to direct my ordnance officer to lead up all the wagons sent to him. I have already sent all my headquarters wagons. You will have to see that wagons are sent from Washington. I can do nothing more than give the order that every available wagon in Alexandria shall be loaded at once.
        The order to the brigade of Sumner that I directed to remain near Chain Bridge and Tennallytown should go from your headquarters to save time. I understand you to intend it also to move. I have no sharpshooters except the guard around my camp I have sent off every man but those, and will now send them with the train as you direct. I will also scud my only remaining squadron of cavalry with General Sumner. I can do no more. You now have every man of the Army of the Potomac who is within my reach.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        At 10.30 p.m. the following telegram was sent:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 30, 1862---10.30 p.m.

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U.S. Army, Washington, D.C.

        I have sent to the front all my troops with the exception of Couch's division, and have given the orders necessary to insure its being disposed of as you directed. I hourly expect the return of one of my aides, who will gave authentic news from the field of battle.
        I cannot express to you the pain and mortification I have experienced to-day in listening to the distant sound of the firing of my men. As I can be of no further use here, I respectfully ask that, if there is a probability of the conflict being renewed to-morrow, I may be permitted to go to the scene of battle with my staff, merely to be with my own men, if nothing more; they will fight none the worse for my being with them. If it is not deemed best to intrust me with the command even of my own army, I simply ask to be permitted to share their fate on the field of battle. Please reply to this to-night.
        I have been engaged for the last few hours in doing what I can to make arrangements for the wounded. I have started out all the ambulances now landed. As I have sent my escort to the front, I would be glad to take some of Gregg's cavalry with me, if allowed to go.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        To which, on the following day, I received this answer:

Washington, August 31, 1862--9.18 a.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        I have just seen your telegram of 11.5 last night. The substance was stated to me when received, but I did not know that you asked for a reply immediately. I cannot answer without seeing the President, as General Pope is in command, by his orders, of the department.
        I think Couch's division should go forward as rapidly as possible and find the battlefield.

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

        On the same day the following was received:

Washington, August 31, 1862--12.45 p.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        The Subsistence Department are making Fairfax Station their principal depot. It should be well guarded. The officer in charge should be directed to secure the depot by abatis against cavalry. As many as possible of the new regiments should be prepared to take the field. Perhaps some more should be sent to the vicinity of Chain Bridge.

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

        At 2.30 p.m. the following dispatch was telegraphed:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 31, 1862--2.30 p.m.

General HALLECK,
Washington.

        Major Haller is at Fairfax Station with my provost and headquarters guard and other troops. I have requested four more companies to be sent at once and the precautions you direct to be taken.
        Under the War Department order of yesterday I have no control over anything except my staff, some 100 men in my camp here, and the few remaining near Fort Monroe. I have no control over the new regiments--- o not know where they are, on anything about them, except those near here. Their commanding officers and those of the works are not under me.
        Where I have seen evils existing under my eye, I have corrected them. I think it is the business of General Casey to prepare the new regiments for the field, and a matter between him and General Barnard to order others to the vicinity of Chain Bridge. Neither of them is under my command, and by the War Department order I have no right to give them orders.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

        To which the following is an answer:

Washington, August 31, 1862--10.7 p.m.

General McCLELLAN.

        Since receiving your dispatch, relating to command, I have not been able to, answer any not of absolute necessity. I have not seen the order as published, but will write to you in the morning. You will retain the command of everything in this vicinity not temporarily belonging to Pope's army in the field.
        I beg of you to assist me in this crisis with your ability and experience. I am utterly tired out.

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

        The order referred to in the preceding dispatch was as follows:

WAR DEPARTMENT,
August 30, 1862.

        The following are the commanders of the armies operating in Virginia:
        General Burnside commands his own corps, except those that have been temporarily detached and assigned to General Pope.
        General McClellan commands that portion of the Army of the Potomac that has not been sent reward to General Pope's command.
        General Pope commands the Army of Virginia and all the forces temporarily attached to it.
        All the forces are under the command of Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief.

E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

        I was informed by Colonel Townsend that the above was published by order of the Secretary of War.
        At 11.30 p.m. I telegraphed the following:

CAMP NEAR ALEXANDRIA,
August 31, 1862--11.3d p.m.

General HALLECK,
Washington
.

        The squadron of Second Regular Cavalry that I sent with General Sumner was captured to-day about 2 p.m., some 3 miles from Fairfax Court-House, beyond it on the Little River pike, by Fitzhugh Lee, with 3,000 cavalry and three light batteries. I have conversed with the first sergeant, who says that when he last saw them they were within a mile of Fairfax. Pope had no troops on that road, this squadron getting there by mistake. There is nothing of ours on the right of Centerville but Sumner's corps. There was much artillery firing during the day. A rebel major told the sergeant that the rebels had driven in our entire left to-day. He says the road is filled with wagons and stragglers coming toward Alexandria. It is clear from the sergeant's account that we were badly beaten yesterday, and that Pope's right is entirely exposed. I recommend that no more of Couch's division be sent to the front, that Burnside be brought here as soon as practicable, and that everything available this side of Fairfax be drawn in at once, including the mass of the troops on the railroad. I apprehend that the enemy will or have by this time occupied Fairfax Court-House and cut off Pope entirely unless he falls back to-night via Sangster's and Fairfax Station. I think these orders should be sent at once. I have no confidence in the dispositions made as I gather them. To speak frankly--and the occasion requires it--there appears to be a total absence of brains, and I fear the total destruction of the army. I have some cavalry here that can carry out any orders you may have to send. The occasion is grave and demands grave measures. The question is the salvation of the country. I learn that our loss yesterday amounted to 15,000. We cannot afford such losses without an object. It is my deliberate opinion that the interests of the nation demand that Pope should fall back to-night if possible, and not one moment is to be lost. I will use all the cavalry I have to watch our right. Please answer at once. I feel confident that you can rely upon the information I give you. I shall be up all night, and ready to obey any orders you give me.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General.

To which this reply was received:

Washington, September 1, 1862--1.30. a.m.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

        Burnside was ordered up very early yesterday morning. Retain remainder of Couch's forces, and make arrangements to stop all retreating troops in line of works or where you can best establish an outer line of defense. My news from Pope was up to 4 p.m. He was then all right. I must wait for more definite information be fore! can order a retreat, as the falling back on the line of works must necessarily be directed in case of a serious disaster. Give me all additional news that is reliable. I shall be up all night, and ready to act as circumstances may require. I am fully aware of the gravity of the crisis, and have been for week.

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

FOURTH PERIOD.

        On the 1st of September I went into Washington, where I had an interview with the General-in-Chief, who instructed me verbally to take command of its defenses, expressly limiting my jurisdiction to the works and their garrisons, and prohibiting me from exercising any control over the troops actively engaged in front under General Pope. During this interview I suggested to the General-in-Chief the necessity of his going in person or sending one of his personal staff to the army under General Pope, for the purpose of ascertaining the exact condition of affairs. He sent Colonel Kelton, his assistant adjutant-general.
        During the afternoon of the same day I received a message from the General-in-Chief to the effect that he desired me to go at once to his house to see the President.
        The President informed me that he had reason to believe that the Army of the Potomac was not cheerfully co-operating with and supporting General Pope; that he had "always been a friend of mine," and now asked me, as a special favor, to use my influence in correcting this state of things. I replied, substantially, that I was confident that he was misinformed; that I was sure, whatever estimate the Army of the Potomac might entertain of General Pope, that they would obey his orders, support him to the fullest extent, and do their whole duty. The President, who was much moved, asked me to telegraph to "Fitz John Porter, or some other of my friends," and try to do away with any feeling that might exist; adding that I could rectify the evil, and that no one else could.
        I thereupon told him that I would cheerfully telegraph to General Porter, or do anything else in my power to gratify his wishes and relieve his anxiety; upon which he thanked me very warmly, assured me that he could never forget my action in the matter, &c., and left.
        I then wrote the following telegram to General Porter, which was sent to him by the General-in-Chief:

Washington, September 1, 1862.

Major-General PORTER.

        I ask of you, for my sake, that of the country, and the old Army of the Potomac, that you and all my friends will lend the fullest and most cordial co-operation to General Pope in all the operations now going on. The destinies of our country, the honor of our arms, are at stake, and all depends now upon the cheerful co-operation of all in the field. This week is the crisis of our fate. Say the same thing to my friends in the Army of the Potomac, and that the last request I have to make of them is, that for their country's sake they will extend to General Pope the same support they ever have to me.
        I am in charge of the defenses of Washington, and am doing all I can to render your retreat safe, should that become necessary.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN

        To which he sent the following reply:

FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE,
September 2, 1862--10 a.m.

General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, Comdg., Washington.

        You may rest assured that all your friends, as well as every lover of his country, will ever give, as they have given, to General Pope their cordial co-operation and constant support in the execution of all orders and plans. Our killed, wounded, and enfeebled troops attest our devoted duty.

F. J. PORTER.

        Neither at the time I wrote the telegram nor at any other time did I think for one moment that General Porter had been or would be in any manner derelict in the performance of his duty to the nation and its cause. Such an impression never entered my mind. The dispatch in question was written purely at the request of the President.
        On the morning of the 2d the President and General Halleck came to my house, when the President informed me that Colonel Kelton had returned from the front; that our affairs were in a bad condition; that the army was in full retreat upon the defenses of Washington; the roads filled with stragglers, &c. He instructed me to take steps at once to stop and collect the stragglers, to place the works in a proper state of defense, and to go out to meet and take command of the army when it approached the vicinity of the works; then to place the troops in the best position--committing everything to my hands.
        I immediately took steps to carry out these orders, and sent an aide to General Pope with the following letter:

HEADQUARTERS, Washington, September 2, 1862.

Maj. Gen. JOHN POPE,
Commanding Army of Virginia.

        GENERAL: General Halleck instructed me to repeat to you the order he sent this morning to withdraw your army to Washington without unnecessary delay. He feared that his messenger might miss you, and desired to take this double precaution.
        In order to bring troops upon ground with which they are already familiar it would be best to move Porter's corps upon Upton's Hill, that it may occupy Hall's Hill, &c.; McDowell's to Upton's Hill; Franklin's to the works in front of Alexandria; Heintzel-man's to the same vicinity; Couch to Fort Corcoran, or, if practicable, to the Chain Bridge; Sumner either to Fort Albany or to Alexandria, as may be most convenient.

In haste, general, very truly, yours,
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General, U. S. Army.

        In the afternoon I crossed the Potomac and rode to the front, and at Upton's Hill met the advance of McDowell's corps, and with it Generals Pope and McDowell. After getting what information I could from them, I sent the few aides at my disposal to the left to give instructions to the troops approaching in the direction of Alexandria, and hearing artillery firing in the direction of the Vienna and Langley road, by which the corps of Sumner, Porter, and Sigel were returning, and learning from General Pope that Sumner was probably engaged, I went with a single aide and three orderlies by the shortest line to meet that column. I reached the column after dark, and proceeded as far as Lewinsville, where I became satisfied that the rear corps (Sumner's) would be able to reach its intended position without any serious molestation. I therefore indicated to Generals Porter and Sigel the positions they were to occupy, sent instructions to General Sumner, and at a late hour of the night returned to Washington.
        Next day I rode to the front of Alexandria, and was engaged in rectifying the positions of the troops and giving orders necessary to secure the issuing of the necessary supplies, &c. I felt sure on this day that we could repulse any attack made by the enemy on the south side of the Potomac.

* * * * * * * * * *

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

Major-General, U.S. Army.

Brig. Gen. LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army.

Source:  "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion"

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McCLELLAN'S REPORT PART 4