Harrison's Bar, or if they could not ascend the river to report at Fort Monroe and await orders.
All that could be chartered were thus sent and added to the fleet which has been for weeks in the Chesapeake and James.
There were thirty steamers at Harrison's Bar when I saw you there, so reported to me by Colonel Ingalls, chief quartermaster Army of the Potomac; a large number at Hampton Roads. There were some hundreds of sailing vessels at Fort Monroe and in the James.
General Burnside's vessels, both sail and steam, were ordered back for your use after moving his troops to Aquia Creek.
By sacrificing the hay in the vessels in the river, throwing over or landing the deck load, which is generally heavy, I supposed you would have the means of moving from Fort Monroe as fast as the men could be embarked and disembarked. The steamers alone at Harrison's Landing were estimated to carry from that distance at a single trip 20,000 to 25,000 men. The embarkation of the wagons and horses will take time.
No more steamers can be obtained without breaking up the lines of ferries and transportation by which the new levies can be brought to the seat of war.
I have to-day directed the quartermaster in Philadelphia to send to Fort Monroe to await orders all the roomy schooners he can get in that port, and the quartermaster at New York to send two hundred sailing vessels, if he can get them, with the same orders.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,
BERKELEY, VA., August 12, 1862-4 p.m. [Received 11,8 p.m.]
Major General H. W. HALLECK:
Information from various sources received within a few days past goes to corroborate the evidence you have received that the rebel army at Richmond has been much weakened by detachments sent to Gordonsville, and that the remaining forces have been so much dispersed between Richmond and this place on both sides James River as to render it doubtful if they can be concentrated again rapidly. D. H. Hill, with a division or more, is in the vicinity of Petersburg; others are along the south bank of James River back of Fort Darling, and I am quite certain that Longstreet, with about 18,000 men, now occupies an intrenched position, which can probably be turned, and is about 3 miles above Malvern Hill. I can in forty-eight hours advance on him and either drive him into the works around Richmond or defeat and capture his force. Should I succeed in accomplishing the latter I see but little difficulty, if my information prove correct, in pushing rapidly forward into Richmond. This would involve the co-operation of all my available force, but the question would soon be decided, and if successful, I should require re-enforcements to maintain my communications.
This effort would, it seems to me, have the effect to draw back the forces now before General Pope, and thus relieve Washington from all danger. One of my general officers, who for five days past has held a position near Malvern Hill, in a letter just received, says:
The enemy before us is weak, and from all I can learn there is not 36,000 men between this and Richmond, nor do I believe they can get more before we can drive them. * * * I have good guides, &c.