July 29, 1862.
The Secretary of War directs me to refer the within to General Halleck, and to beg his attention to the same.
C. P. WOLCOTT,
Assistant Secretary of War.
Memorandum for the Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON, D. C., July 27, 1862
In accordance with the directions of the President, I left here on the afternoon of the 24th and reached the camp of General McClellan on the afternoon of the 25th.
I stated to the general that the object of my visit was to ascertain from him his views and wishes in regard to future operations. He said that he proposed to cross the James River at that point, attack Petersburg, and cut off the enemy's communications by that route south, making no further demonstration for the present against Richmond. I stated to him very frankly my views in regard to the danger and impracticability of the plan, to most of which he finally agreed.
I then told him that it seemed to me a military necessity to concentrate his forces with those of General Pope on some point where they could at the same time cover Washington and operate against Richmond, unless he felt strong enough to attack the latter place with a strong probability of success with the re-enforcements which could be given to him. He expressed the opinion that with 30,000 re-enforcements he could attack Richmond with "a good chance of success." I replied that I was authorized by the President to promise only 20,000, and that if he could not take Richmond with that number we must devise some plan for withdrawing his troops from their present position to some point where they could unite which those of General Pope without exposing Washington. He thought there would be no serious difficulty in withdrawing his forces for that purpose, but the movement he said would have a demoralizing influence on his own troops, and suggested the propriety of their holding their present position till sufficient re-enforcements could be collected. I told him that I had no authority to consider that he must decide between advising the withdrawal of his forces to some point to be agreed upon to meet General Pope or to advance on Richmond with the re-enforcements which the President had offered; that I was not sufficiently advised in regard to the position of our forces and those of the enemy to say how many additional troops could be given to him with safety, but that the President had decided that question by fixing his re-enforcements at 20,000 and I could promise no addition to that number.
I inferred from his remarks that under these circumstances he would prefer to withdraw and unite with General Pope; but I advised him to consult his officers and give me a final answer in the morning. He did so, and the next morning informed me that he would attack Richmond with the re-enforcements promised. He would not say that he thought the probabilities of success were in his favor, but that there was "a chance", and he was" willing to try it."
22 R R-VOL XI, PT III