War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0105 Chapter XXIII. GENERAL REPORTS.

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Neither at time I wrote the telegram nor at any other time did I think for one moment that General Porter had been or would be in any manner derelict in the performance of his duty to the nation and its cause. Such an impression never entered my mind. The dispatch in question was written purely at the request of the President. On the morning of the 2nd the President and General Halleck came to my house, when the President informed me that Colonel Kelton had returned from the front; that our affairs were in a bad condition; that the army was in full retreat upon the defenses of Washington; the roads filled with stragglers,&c. He instructed me to take steps at once to stop and collect the stragglers, to place the works in a proper state of defense, and to go out to meet and take command of the army when it approached the vicinity of the works; then to place the troops in the best position-committing everything to my hands. I immediately took steps to carry out these orders, and sent an aide to General Pope with the following letter: HEADQUARTERS, Washington, September 2, 1862. GENERAL: General Halleck instructed me to repeat to you the order he sent this morning to withdraw your army to Washington without unnecessary delay. He feared that his messenger might miss you, and desired to take this double precaution. In order to bring troops upon ground with which they are already familiar it would be best to move Porter's corps upon Upton's Hill, that it may occupy Hall's Hill, &c.; McDowell's to Upton's Hill; Franklin's to the works in front of Alexandria; Heintzelman's to the same vicinity; Couch to Fort Corcoran, or, if practicable, to the Chain Bridge; Sumner either to Fort Albany or to Alexandria, as may be most convenient. In haste, general, very truly, yours, GEO. B. McCLELLAN, Major-General, U. S. Army. Major General JOHN POPE, commanding Army of Virginia. In the afternoon I crossed the Potomac and rode to the front, and at Upton's Hill met the advance of McDowell's corps, and with it Generals Pope and McDowell. After getting what information I could from them, I sent the few aides at my disposal to the left to give instructions to the troops approaching in the direction of Alexandria, and hearing artillery firing in the direction of the Vienna and Langley road, by which the corps of Sumner, Porter, and Sigel were returning, and learning from General Pope that Sumner was probably engaged, I went with a single aide and three orderlies by the shortest line to meet that column. I reached the column after dark, and proceeded as far as Lewinsville, where I became satisfied that the rear corps (Sumner's) would be able to reach its intended position without any serious molestation. I there-fore indicated to Generals Porter and Sigel the positions they were to occupy, sent instructions to General Sumner, and at a late hour of the night returned to Washington. Next day I rode to the front of Alexandria, and was engaged in rectifying the positions of the troops and giving orders necessary to secure the issuing of the necessary supplies, &c. I felt sure on this day that we could repulse any attack made by the enemy on the south side of the Potomac.*

* * * * * * *

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, U. S. Army.

Brigadier General LORENZO THOMAS,

Adjutant-General U. S. Army.


* The whole of McClellan's report for the "Fourth Period" will appear in Chapter XXXI, embracing operations of the Army of the Potomac from September 2 to November 9, 1862.