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,
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
On the 20th the following was communicated to the President:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Camp Lincoln, June 20, 1862-2 p. m.
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 fell 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,
His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President.
To which I received this reply:
WASHINGTON, June 21, 1862-6 p. m.
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.
Major General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.
To which I sent the following reply:
CAMP LINCOLN, June 22-1 p. m.
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,
His Excellency the PRESIDENT.