War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0009 Chapter XXIV. GENERAL REPORTS.

Search Civil War Official Records

excellent discipline and condition. We hold a debouche on both banks of the James River, so that we are free to act in any direction, and with the assistance of the gunboats I consider our communications as now secure. We are 25 miles from Richmond, and are not likely to meet the enemy in force sufficient to fight a battle until we have marched 15 or 18 miles, which brings us practically within 10 miles of Richmond.

Our largest line of land transportation would be from this point 25 miles. We can supply the army by water during its advance certainly to within 12 miles of Richmond. At Aquia Creek we would be 75 miles from Richmond, with land transportation all the way. From here to Fort Monroe is a march of about 70 miels, for I regard it as impracticable to withdraw this army and its material except by land. The result of the movement would thus be to march 145 miles to reach a point now only 25 miles distant and to deprive ourselves entirely of the powerful aids of the gunboats and water transportation. Add to this the certain demoralization of this army which would ensue, the terribly depressing effect upon the people of the North, and the strong probability that it would influence foreign powers to recognize our adversaries, and these appear to me sufficient reasons to make it my imperative duty to urge, in the strongest terms afforded by our language, that this order may be rescinded, and that, far from recalling this army, it be promptly re-enforced, to enable it to resume the offensive. It may be said that there are no re-enforcements available. I point to General Burnside's forces; to that of General Pope, not necessary to maintain a strict defense in front of Washington and Harper's Ferry; to those portions of the Army of the West not required for a strict defense there.

Here, directly in front of this army, is the heart of the rebellion. It is here that our resources should be collected to strike the blow which will determine the fate of this nation. All points of secondary importance elsewhere should be abandoned and every available man brought here. A decided victory here, and the military strength of the rebellion is crushed. It matters not what partial reverses we may meet with elsewhere; here is the true defense of Washington. It is here on the bank of the James River that the fate of the Union should be decided. Clear in my convictions of right, strong in the consciousness that I have ever been and still lam actuated solely by love of my country, knowing that no ambitious or selfish motives have influenced me from the commencement of this war, I do now what I never did in my life before, I entreat that this order may be rescinded. If my counsel does not prevail I will with a sad heart obey your orders to the utmost of my power, devoting to the movement - one of the utmost delicacy and difficulty - whatever skill I may possess, whatever the result may be, and may God grant that I am mistaken in my foreboding. I shall at least have the internal satisfaction that I have written and spoken frankly, and have sought to do the best in my power to avert disaster from my country.



[Exhibit Numbers 2.]

WASHINGTON, August 6, 1862.

Major-General MCCLELLAN, Commanding, Berkeley, Va.:

GENERAL: Your telegram of yesterday was received this morning, and I immediately telegraphed a brief reply, promising to write you