War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0074 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN. VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

in any event. It should not be at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political organizations. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of States, or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment.

In prosecuting the war all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations; all private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes, all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanor by the military toward citizens promptly rebuked. Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active hostilities exist, and oaths not required by enactments constitutionally made should be neither demanded nor received. Military government should be confined to the preservation of public order and the protection of political rights. Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master, except for repressing disorder, as in other cases. Slaves, contraband under the act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted, and the right of the owner to compensation therefor should be recognized. This principle might be extended, upon grounds of military necessity and security, to all the slaves of a particular State, thus working manumission in such State; and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia also, and possibly even in Maryland, the expediency of such a measure is only a question of time. A system of policy thus constitutional, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty.

Unless the principles governing the future conduct of our struggle shall be made known and approved the effort to obtain requisite forces will be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, especially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies. The policy of the Government must be supported by concentrations of military, power. The national forces should not be dispersed in expeditions, posts of occupation, and numerous armies, but should be mainly collected into masses, and brought to bear upon the armies of the Confederate States. Those armies thoroughly defeated, the political structure which they support would soon cease to exist.

In carrying out any system of policy which you confidence, understands your views, and who is competent to execute your orders by directing the military forces of the nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place for myself. I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me, and I will do so as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.

I may be on the brink of eternity, and as I hope forgiveness from my Maker I have written this letter with sincerity toward you and from love for my country.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President.

I telegraphed the President on the 11th as follows:*

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Berkeley, July 11, 1862-3 p.m.

* * * * * *

We are very strong here now, so far as defensive is concerned. Hope you will soon make up strong enough to advance and try it again. All in fine spirits.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President.

These telegrams were sent on the 12th, 17th, and 18th to His Excellency the President:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Berkeley, July 12, 1862-7.15 a.m.

Hill and Longstreet crossed into New Kent County, via Long Bridge. I am still ignorant what road they afterward took, but will know shortly.

---------------

*Entire dispatch appears in "Correspondence, etc.," Part III.

---------------