« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
munication of the 28th day of June, I have decided to call into the service an additional force of three hundred thousand
I suggest and recommend that the troops should be chiefly I trust of infantry. The quota of your State would be that they may be enrolled without delay, so as to bring this unnecessary and injurious civil war to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion.
An order fixing the quotas of the respective States will be issued by the War Department to-morrow.
Gen. Pope at once entered on the work of preparation for the far from welcome duties assigned him. On ascertaining the condition of the forces placed at his command, he was painfully conscious of the great disproportion of the means at his disposal to the ends that were desired. In addition to the troops within the intrenchments around Washington, the whole effective force at his disposal was as follows: First Corps, 11,500; Second Corps, (as reported,) 14,500; and Third Corps, 18,400-making in all, 44,400. Gen. Pope states, however, that the Second Corps really numbered but about 8,000, so that the total was barely 38,000. With this force, the new Commanding General had the triple task of defending Washington, holding the Shenandoah Valley, and creating a diversion in favor of the army at Harrison's Landing.
At the first intelligence of Jackson's onset upon the Army of the Potomac by way of Hanover Court House, on the 26th, Gen. Pope had earnestly and repeatedly urged the impolicy of a retreat to the James river, still further away from re-enforcements, but advised, instead, that McClellan should make his way northward, where effective support could be rendered him. by the remaining troops in Virginia. This policy of concentration may have been impracticable, under the circumstances; and at all events, it was little regarded by McClellan, except apon conditions that would expose to the enemy all the approaches to Washington and the Valley. The necessity of cordial coöperation between the little army left for the defense of these positions, and the remnant of McClellan's force, at Harrison's Landing, was obvious. The utter impossibility of send
ing to the latter point any re-enforcements drawn from the former, hardly needs to be stated, and yet it was for precisely the reason that this was not done, that Gen. McClellan, after his disastrous battle at Gaines' Mill, on the 28th, wrote the following letter-which, but for his deliberate reproduction of it in his final report, might have been charitably dismissed as a mere hasty ebullition-received with a forbearance which, perhaps, such unamiable weakness had long since ceased to deserve:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, SAVAGE'S STATION, June 28, 1862, 12.20 A. M. 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 twenty thousand or even ten thousand fresh troops to use to-morrow, I 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
If we have lost 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 the 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 ten thousand fresh men, I could gain the 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 can not 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 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. G. B. MCCLELLAN.
Hon. E. M. STANTON.
Further communication with this officer was interrupted until, after his arrival at Harrison's Landing, the following dispatch was sent in reply:
WASHINGTON, July 1, 1862, 3.30 P. M. It is impossible to re-enforce you for your present emergeney. 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 sect rity, and wait, rest, and repair. Maintain your ground if you can, but save the army at all events, even if you fall back to l'ort Monroe. We still have strength enough in the country, and will bring it out. A. LINCOLN.
Maj.-Gen. G. B. MCCLELLAN.
Obviously, the chief concern in regard to this army was now to preserve it from further loss-there having been, in fact, apprehensions through the country that its entire surrender would be the ultimate result, even after it had reached its present comparatively secure position. Indeed, had the numbers under Lee at all corresponded with McClellan's estimate, this danger was still imminent. The enemy held one bank of the James river, the chief security to our communications being in the fleet of gunboats under Commodore Rodgers.
It was under these circumstances that Gen. Pope, having unsuccessfully appealed to the chief authorities at Washington to relieve him from a command from which so little was to be
hoped, and in which his high military reputation was staked at tearful odds, issued an energetic address to his army, with the vigorous orders so offensive to his adversaries, and proceeded earnestly to the performance of the three-fold duties already indicated, drawing almost the entire army of Lee away from Richmond.
One of Pope's first movements was the sending out of cavalry detachments from Fredericksburg, to cut the Virginia Central railroad at several points. This having been duly accomplished, orders were given to Gen. Banks, on the 14th of July, to send forward all his cavalry, with an infantry support, to occupy Culpepper Court House, and to advance from thence to Gordonsville, destroying the railroad for ten or fifteen miles eastward from that place. The cavalry commander failed to execute the latter part of the order, going only as far as Madison Court House-a failure which cost him his command. Jackson's advance, under Ewell, reached Gordonsville on the 16th. Gen. Pope took the field in person on the 29th, and the main portion of his infantry and artillery was placed in position, by the 7th of August, along the turnpike road from Sperryville to Culpepper. Gen. Buford, who had been assigned to the command of the cavalry in Banks' corps, was posted at Madison Court House with five regiments, his pickets extending along the Rapidan, from Burnett's Ford to the Blue Ridge. Gen. Sigel was directed to send a brigade of infantry and a battery of artillery, in support of Buford, to Robertson's river. Gen. Bayard, with four cavalry regiments, was posted near Rapidan Station, his pickets extending eastward along the Rapidan to Raccoon Ford, and westward to meet those of Buford at Burnett's Ford. Cavalry pickets were also stationed along the Rapidan from Raccoon Ford to the confluence of that river with the Rappahannock, while King's division of infantry remained opposite Fredericksburg, substantially completing the line to the Potomac.
On the 8th, the enemy was reported in force in front of both Bayard and Buford, the former slowly falling back toward Culpepper. Crawford's brigade, of Banks' corps, was sent toward Cedar mountain, to support Bayard, and to aid in ascertaining
the numbers and intentions of the enemy. On the 9th, Banks was ordered, with the remainder of his corps, to join the brigade under Crawford-Sigel having failed, for some reason, to arrive from Sperryville, to participate in this movement as intended. Ricketts' division, of McDowell's corps, was posted three miles in the rear of Banks, so as to be available for his support, or to be thrown toward Sperryville, whither Buford was retreating, reporting a heavy Rebel force advancing toward Culpepper from Madison Court House.
During the day, on the 9th, and down to five o'clock, the enemy did not appear before Banks, in any considerable force, which led that officer, contrary to the intentions of the commanding General, who merely desired the enemy at this point to be kept in check, to advance two miles to attack. In reality, he encountered a superior force in a strong position, his troops fighting bravely. The action lasted less than two hours, the Government forces being gradually driven back to their former position, with considerable loss. Ricketts' division now came up to their aid, with Gen. Pope at its head. A brisk artillery fire was soon after commenced, driving back the enemy to his former shelter in the woods.
Sigel having arrived, his corps was now advanced and that of Banks withdrawn toward Culpepper, to be put in condition after its fatigues and losses. King had been telegraphed for at Fredericksburg on the 8th, and arrived on the night of the 11th, which day had been spent by both parties in burying the dead. Pope, now having numbers about equal to those of the enemy, determined to bring on a battle, by falling on his line of communications at daybreak. But, during the night, Jackson retired hurriedly across the Rapidan, toward Gordonsville, leaving behind many of his dead and wounded. Gen. Pope reports a loss of about 1,800 men, in killed, wounded and prisoners.
A cavalry force, under Buford and Bayard, followed the enemy to the Rapidan, capturing many stragglers. Thereupon the cavalry resumed its former position, on the line of the Rapidan, from Raccoon Ford to the Blue Ridge.
On the 14th, Pope had an accession to his strength, by the