War of the Rebellion: Serial 014 Page 0154 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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ence having proved it to be very bad, and it having very nearly resulted in a most disastrous defeat. I wish either to return to the organization by division or else be authorized to relieve incompetent commanders of army corps. Had I been one-half hour later on the field on the 5th we would have been routed and would have lost everything. Notwithstanding my positive orders I was informed of nothing that had occurred, and I went to the field of battle myself upon unofficial information that my presence was needed to avoid defeat. I found there the utmost confusion and incompetency, the utmost discouragement on the part of the men. At least a thousand lives were really sacrificed by the organization into corps.

I have too much regard for the lives of my comrades and too deep an interest in the success of our cause to hesitate for a moment. I learn that you are equally in earnest, and I therefore again request full and complete authority to relieve from duty with this army commanders of corps or divisions who prove themselves incompetent.


Major-General, Commanding.

FORT MONROE, VA., May 9, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN:

The President is unwilling to have the army corps organization broken up, but also unwilling that the commanding general shall be trammeled and embarrassed in actual skirmishing, collision with the enemy, and on the eve of an expected great battle. You, therefore, may temporarily suspend that organization in the army now under your immediate command, and adopt any you see fit until farther order. He also writes your privately.


Secretary of War.

FORT MONROE, VA., May 9, 1862.

Major-General McCLELLAN:

MY DEAR SIR: I have just assisted the Secretary of War in framing the part of a dispatch to you relating to army corps, which dispatch of course will have reached you long before this will.

I wish to say a few words to you privately on this subject. I ordered the army corps organization not only on the unanimous opinion of the twelve generals whom you had selected and assigned as generals of divisions, but also on the unanimous opinion of every military book, yourself only excepted. Of course I did not on my own judgment pretend to understand the subject. I now think it indispensable for you to know how our struggle against it is received in quarters which we cannot entirely disregard. It is looked upon as merely in effort to pamper one or two pets and to persecute and degrade their supposed rivals. I have had no word from Sumner, Heintzelman, or Keyes. The commanders of these corps are of course the three highest officers with you, but I am constantly told that you have no consultation or communicat-