my anxious desire and diligent effort to prepare for and prosecute. The advance should not be postponed beyond the 25th of November, if possible to avoid it.
Unity in councils, the utmost vigor and energy in action, are indispensable. The entire military field should be grasped as a whole, and not in detached parts. One plan should be agreed upon and pursued; a single will should direct and carry out there plans.
The great object to be accomplished, the crushing defeat of the rebel army (now) at Manassas, should never for one instant be lost sight of, but all the intellect and means and men of the Government poured upon that point. The loyal States possess ample force to effect all this and more. The rebels have displayed energy, unanimity, and wisdom worthy of the most desperate days of the French revolution. Should we do less?
The unity of this nation, the preservation of our institutions, are so dear to me, that I have willingly sacrificed my private happiness with the single object of doing my duty to my country. When the task is accomplished, I shall be glad to return to the obscurity from which events have drawn me. Whatever the determination of the Government may be, I will do the best I can with the Army of the Potomac, and will share its fate, whatever may be the task imposed upon me.
Permit me to add that, on this occasion, as heretofore, it has been may aim neither to exaggerate nor underrate the power of the enemy, nor fail to express clearly the means by which, in my judgment, that power may be broken.
Urging the energy of preparation and action, which has ever been my choice, but with the fixed purpose by no act of mine to expose the Government to hazard by premature movement, and requesting that this communication may be laid before the President, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Honorable SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.
When I assumed command in Washington, on the 27th of July, 1861, the number of troops in and around the city was about 50,000 infantry, less than 1,000 cavalry, and 650 artillerymen, with nine imperfect field batteries, of thirty pieces. On the Virginia bank of the Potomac the brigade organization of General McDowell still existed, and the troops were stationed at and in rear of Fort Corcoran, Arlington, and Fort Albany, Fort Runyon, Roach's Mill, Cole's Mill, and in the vicinity of Fort Ellsworth, with a detachment at the Theological Seminary. There were no troops south of Hunting Creek, and many of the regiments were encamped on the low grounds bordering the Potomac, seldom in the best positions for defense, and entirely inadequate in numbers and condition to defend the long line from Fort Corcoran to Alexandria. On the Maryland side of the river, upon the heights overlooking the Chain Bridge, two regiments were stationed, whose commanders were independent of each other. There were no troops on the important Tennallytown road, or on the roads entering the city from the south. The camps were located without regard to purposes of defense or instruction, the roads were not picketed, and there was no attempt at an organization into brigades.
In no quarter were the dispositions for defense such as to offer a vigorous resistance to a respectable body of the enemy, either in the position and numbers of the troops or the number and character of the defensive works. Earthworks, in the nature of tetes-de-pont, looked upon the approaches to the Georgetown Aqueduct and Ferry, the Long Bridge, and Alexandria, by the Little River turnpike, and some simple defensive arrangements were made at the Chain Bridge. With the latter exception not a single defensive work had been commenced on the Maryland side. There was nothing to prevent the enemy shelling the city from heights within easy range, which could be occupied by a hostile column almost without resistance. Many soldiers had deserted, and the streets of Washington were crowded with straggling officers and men, absent from their stations without authority, whose behavior indicated the general want of discipline and organization.