War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0928 OPERATIONS IN KY.,TENN., N.ALA., AND S.W.VA. Chapter XVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

disappoints and distresses me. I have shown it to General McClellan who says he will write you to-day. I am not competent to criticism your views, and therefore what I offer is merely in justification of myself. Of the two, I would rather have a point on the railroad south of Cumberland Gap than Nashville-first, because it cuts a great artery of the enemy's communication, which Nashville does not; and, secondly, because it is in the midst of loyal people, who would rally around it, while Nashville is not. Again, I cannot see why the movement on East Tennessee would not be a diversion in your favor rather than a disadvantage, assuming that a movement toward Nashville is the main object.

But my distress is that our friends in East Tennessee are being hanged and driven to despair, and even now I fear are thinking of taking rebel arms for the sake of personal protection. In this we lose the most valuable stake we have in the South. My dispatch, to which yours in an answer, was sent with the knowledge of Senator Johnson and Representative Maynard, of East Tennessee, and they will be upon me to know the answer, which I cannot safely show them. They would despair, possibly resign, to go and save their families somehow or die with them.

I do not intend this to be an order in any sense, but merely, as intimated before, to show you the grounds of my anxiety.

Yours, very truly,

A. LINCOLN.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, January 13, 1862.

Brigadier-General BUELL:

MY DEAR SIR: Your dispatch of yesterday is received, in which you say, "I have received your letter and General McClellan's, and will at once devote all my efforts to your views and his.: In the midst of my many cares I have not seen nor asked to see General McClellan's letter to you. For my own views, I have not offered, and do not offer them, as orders; and while I am glad to have them respectfully considered, I would blame you to follow them contrary to your own clear judgment, unless I should put them in the form of orders. As to General McClellan's views, you understand your duty in regard to them better than I do.

With this preliminary I state my general idea of this war to be that we have the greater numbers and the enemy has the greater facility of concentrating forces upon points of collision; that we must fail unless we can find some way of making our advantage an overmatch for his; and that this can only be done by menacing him with superior forces at different points at the same time, so that we can safely attack one or both if he makes no change; and if he weakens one to strengthen the other, forbear to attack the strengthened one, but seize and hold the weakened one, gaining so much.

To illustrate: Suppose last summer, when Winchester ran away to reenforce Manassas, we had forborne to attack Manassas, but had seized and held Winchester. I mention this to illustrate and not to criticism. I did not lose confidence in McDowell, and I think less harshly of Paterson than some others seem to. In application of the general Rule I am suggesting every particular case will have its modifying circumstances, among which the most constantly present and most difficult to meet will be the want of perfect acknowledge of the enemy's movements.