4th. In fact would it not be less valuable in this, that it would break no great line of the enemy's communication, while mine would?
5th. In case of disaster would not a safe retreat be more difficult by your plan than by mine?
WAR ORDER, Numbers 3.
Washington, March 8, 1862.
Ordered, That no change of the base of operations of the Army of the Potomac shall be made without leaving in and about Washington such a force as in the opinion of the General-in-Chief and the commanders of all the army corps shall leave said city entirely secure.
That no more than two army corps (about 50,000 troops) of said Army of the Potomac shall be moved en route for a new base of operation until the navigation of the Potomac from Washington to the Chesapeake Bay shall be freed from enemy's batteries and other obstructions or until the President shall hereafter give express permission.
That any movements as aforesaid en route for a new base of operations which may be ordered by the General-in-Chief, and which may be intended to move upon the Chesapeake Bay, shall begin to move upon the bay as early as the 18th day of March instant, and the General-in-Chief shall be responsible that it so move as early as that day.
Ordered, that the Army and Navy co-operate in an immediate effort to capture the enemy's batteries upon the Potomac between Washington and the Chesapeake Bay.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Fairfax Court-House, March 13, 1862.
A council of the generals commanding army corps at the Headquarters Army of the Potomac were of the opinion-
I. That, the enemy having retreated from Manassas to Gordonsville, behind the Rappahannock and Rapidan, it is the opinion of the generals commanding army corps that the operations to be carried on will be best undertaken from Old Point Comfort, between the York and James River, upon Richmond, provided-
1. That the enemy's vessel Merrimac can be neutralized.
2. That the means of transportation sufficient for an immediate transfer of the force to its new base can be ready at Washington and Alexandria to move down the Potomac, and
3. That a naval auxiliary force can be had to silence or aid in silencing the enemy's batteries in York River.
4. That the force to be left to cover Washington shall be such as to give an entire feeling of security for its safety from menace.
II. If the foregoing cannot be, the army should then be moved against the enemy behind the Rappahannock at the earliest possible moment, and the means for reconstructing bridges, repairing railroads, and stocking them with material sufficient for the supplying the army should at once be collected for both the Orange and Alexandria and the Aquia and Richmond Railroads.