The plan indicated in the above letters comprehended in its scope the operations of all the armies of the Union, the Army of the Potomac as well. It was my intention, for reasons easy to be seen, that its various parts should be carried out simultaneously, or nearly so, and in co-operation along the whole line. If this plan was wise, and events have failed to prove that it was not, then it is unnecessary to defend any delay which would have enabled the Army of the Potomac to perform its share in the execution of the whole work. But about the middle of January, 1862, upon recovering from a severe illness, I found that excessive anxiety for an immediate movement of the Army of the Potomac had taken possession of the minds of the administration. A change had just been made in the War Department, and I was soon urged by the new Secretary, Mr. Stanton, to take immediate steps to secure the reopening of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and to free the banks of the Lower Potomac from the rebel batteries, which annoyed passing vessels. Very soon after his entrance upon office I laid before him verbally my design as to the part of the plan of campaign to be executed by the Army of the Potomac, which was to attack Richmond by the Lower Chesapeake. He instructed me to develop it to the President, which I did. The result was that the President disapproved it, and by an orer of January 31, 1862, substituted one of his own. On the 27th of January, 1862, the following order was issued, without consultation with me:
PRESIDENT'S GENERAL WAR ORDER,
Washington, January 27, 1862.
Ordered, That the 22nd day of February, 1862, be the day for a general movement of the land and naval forces of the United States against the insurgent forces. That especially the army at and about Fortress Monroe; the Army of the Potomac; the Army of Western Virginia; the army near Munfordville, Ky.; the army and flotilla at Cairo, and a naval force in the Gulf of Mexico, be ready to move on that day.
That all other forces, both land and naval, with their respective commanders, obey existing orders for the time, and be ready to obey additional orders when duty given..
That the heads of Departments, and especially the Secretaries of War and of the Navy, with all their subordinates, and the General-in-Chief, with all other commanders and subordinates of land and naval forces, will severally be held to their strict and full responsibilities for prompt execution of this order.
The order of January 31, 1862, was as follows:
PRESIDENT'S SPECIAL WAR ORDER,
Washington, January 31, 1862.
Ordered, That all the disposable force of the Army of the Potomac, after providing safely for the defense of Washington, be formed into an expedition for the immediate object of seizing and occupying a point upon the railroad southwestward of what is known as Manassas Junction, all details to be in the discretion of the Commander-in-Chief, and the expedition to move before or on the 22nd day of February next.
I asked his excellency whether this order was to be regarded as final, or whether I could be permitted to submit in writing my objections to his plan and my reasons for preferring my own. Permission was accorded, and I therefore prepared the letter to the Secretary of War which is given below.
Before this had been submitted to the President he addressed me the following note:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, February 3, 1862.
MY DEAR SIR: You and I have distinct and different plans for a movement of the Army of the Potomac-yours to be down the Chesapeake, up the Rappahannock to Urbana, and across land to the terminus of the railroad on the York River; mine to move directly to a point on the railroads southwest of Manassas.*
*For the President's memorandum accompanying this note, see under same date in "Correspondence, etc.," post.