I do not forget that I was satisfied with your arrangements to leave Banks at Manassas Junction, but when that arrangement was broken up and nothing was substituted for it of course I was not satisfied. I was constrained to substitute something for it myself.
And now allow me to ask, "Do you really think I should permit the line from Richmond via Manassas Junction to this city to be entirely open, except what resistance could be presented by less than 20,000 unorganized troops?" This is a question which the country will not allow me to evade.
There is curious mystery about the number of the troops now with you. When I telegraphed you on the 6th, saying you had over 10,000 with you, I had just obtained from the Secretary of War a statement taken as he said from your own returns, making 108,000 then with you and en route to you. You now say you will have but 85,000 when all en route to you shall have reached you. How can this discrepancy of 35,000 be accounted for?
As to General Wool's command, I understand it is doing for you precisely what a like number of your own would have to do if that command was away. I suppose the whole force which has gone forward to you is with you by this time, and, if so, I think it is the precise time for you to strike a blow. By delay the enemy will relatively gain upon you; that is, he will gain faster by fortifications and re-enforcements than you can by re-enforcements alone.
And once more let me tell you it is indispensable to you that you strike a blow. I am powerless to help this. You will do me the justice to remember I always insisted that going down the bay in search of a field instead of fighting at or near Manassas was only shifting and not surmounting a difficulty; that we would find the same enemy and the same or equal intrenchments at either place. The country will not fail to note-is noting now-that the present hesitation to move upon an intrenched enemy is but the story of Manassas repeated.
I beg to assure you that I have never written you or spoken to you in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller purpose to sustain you, so far as in my most anxious judgment I consistently can; but you must act.
Yours, very truly,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF RAPPAHANNOCK,
Fairfax Court-House, April 10, 1862
I . The powers which, as military governor and commander of the District of Columbia, Brigadier-General Wadsworth may have received from the Headquarters of the Army of the Potomac have in no way been restricted or modified in the creation of the Department of the Rappahannock.
II. In addition to the limits of his command, as heretofore defined, Brigadier-General Wadsworth will, in the absence of the major-general commanding the department, have charge and do whatever may be needful in that part of the department east of the Potomac, and of so much of the counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, Virginia, as are not now and shall not hereafter be occupied by the divisions of Franklin, McCall, and King.
By command of Major-General McDowell: