War of the Rebellion: Serial 018 Page 0170 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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You do not seem to be aware of the following order of the Secretary, under which I am still acting, and which as follows:

The President desires that you should not throw your force across the Rappahannock at present, but that you should get your bridges and transportation all nearly ready and wait further orders.

I sent General Van Rensselaer to represent the condition of things here and to ask permission to occupy the town so as to at least guard stores and protect Union men. I received the following:

The Secretary of War has given me authority to inform you that you can occupy Fredericksburg with such force as in your judgment may be necessary to hold it for defensive purposes, but not to make a forward movement.

When on a visit here the Secretary said that as soon as my forces should arrive the President would give me leave to go forward. I have been doing all I could to get them forward, feeling fully the force of all you have said. I have obstacles, which you will appreciate, in getting a channel of supply, to wit, the rebuilding of long and high railroad bridges and relaying the road. I have only means for supplying my force at this point even from day to day. I am trying to improve this all I can.

This is not brilliant I know, but it is all that I can do as things now are. I could now go against the enemy, and he will do as you say, retreat, and when he has retreated I would have to do the same in order to feed my soldiers.

You gentlemen do not seem to appreciate the question of supplies and the difficulties in getting them forward. I see McClellan report himself in advance of his supplies, and my enthusiastic general of division, Shields, is in the same trouble.

In order not to wait for the railroad I have sent to Meigs for 150 wagons, so that when the railroad is done to this place, which will be Wednesday, I will be able to do something even with what I have, if I have the permission to try.

Pardon this long explanation, but I am anxious you should continue to think well of me.

Colonel McCallum does not take very good care of us.

IRVIN MCDOWELL,

Major-General.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK,

Fredericksburg, May 11, 1862.

Colonel GEARY, Rectortown:

Your dispatch to General McDowell of 10th instant is just received, and I am directed to inform you that he has placed the whole subject of the guarding of the railroad from Alexandria to White Plains under the direction of General Wadsworth, military governor at Washington, who has been requested to take into consideration your request, the same having been communicated to him.

ED. SCHRIVER,

Chief of Staff.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK,

Opposite Fredericksburg, May 11, 1862.

General RUFUS KING,

Commanding Division:

The major-general commanding directs that you impress again (it was supposed it had been already sufficiently done) upon the brigade com-