War of the Rebellion: Serial 018 Page 0306 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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HEADQUARTERS,

Opposite Fredericksburg, May 31, 1862 - 6.10 p. m.

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:

Dispatch received. I am not about to withdraw from Fredericksburg, but I have received the following orders from General McDowell:

Draw in your force, massing them on the left bank of the river, holding yourself on the defensive, keeping Fredericksburg. Guard the bridges to Aquia Creek, by completing the block-houses near them.

I have, in obedience to these orders, withdrawn all my forces, except a sufficient guard for the city police and the outpickets, from the right bank of the river, and have made such disposition of my command as seems to me best calculated to resist an attack from any quarter. I have no idea of withdrawing from this position without orders. I have scouts out in the direction of Spotsylvania Court-House and the forks of the Rappahannock, and will report the result of their observations on their return.

GEO. A. MCCALL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

WASHINGTON,

May 31, 1862 - 6.52 p. m.

General MCCALL:

The President directs me to say to you that there can be nothing to justify a panic at Fredericksburg. He expects you to maintain your position there as becomes a soldier and a general.

EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

WASHINGTON, May 31, 1862 - 7.55.

General MCCALL, Falmouth:

Your telegram received and is satisfactory. Your instructions had not been communicated to this Department, and it was reported that you were about to withdraw your forces from Fredericksburg in disorder. The President is gratified to find that the report is not true. It appears to be absolutely certain that there can be no force before Fredericksburg capable of contending with you, and since the railroads and railroad bridges have been broken on both lines between Richmond and Hanover Junction by General McClellan, no force can be sent from there. General McClellan, moreover, defeated on Tuesday a part of the force that had retired from Fredericksburg. A telegram just received from Harper's Ferry states that the enemy are in full retreat from there in consequence of General McDowell's advance on their rear.

Please keep this Department advised of the state of your command.

EDWIN M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.