MOUNT JACKSON, June 12, 1862.
Honorable ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President of the United States:
DEAR SIR: When I took leave of you you authorized me to send you a confidential report about the condition of thinks in this department. I arrived at Harrisonburg on the 9th, having been detained in the mountains for two days by the swollen creeks. My experience is there fore short, but I have already seen and heard enough to give a reliable opinion on many points.
It is a fact, which admits of no doubt, that when your ordered General Fremont to march from Franklin to Harrisonburg it was absolutely impossible to carry out the order. The army was in a starving condition and literally unable to fight. I have been assured by many that had they been attacked at Franklin about that time a number of regiments would have thrown down their arms. Thus it seems to have been necessary to move back toward Moorefield in order to meet the supply trains. The army then went in forced marches to Strasburg. Most of the baggage and the knapsacks of the soldiers were left behind. The march was difficult, and, owing to the lack of provisions, very hard on the men. The army failed to arrest Jackson at Strasburg, and although it seems that Jackson's rear guard might have been attacked with more promptness and vigor, yet it is undoubtedly a very fortunate circumstance that General Fremont did not succeed in placing himself across Jackson's line of retreat; for Jackson's force was so much superior to his (all the generals Banks included, put at 25,000 as the very lowest) that he would in all probability have been beaten.
The pursuit was vigorous, and the battle fought on the 8th an honorable affair. You are probably well informed of what followed; how the bridge was burned and how Jackson drove Shields back on the other side of the river.
Early on the morning of the 10th, when I had already left Harrisonburg for the purpose of joining General Fremont, I was advised of his retrograde movement, and shortly after 1 o'clock p. m. the army entered the town. The weather was very bad and the roads in a miserable condition. I saw the general immediately after his arrival, and he communicated to me his intention to fall back as far as Mount Jackson. Shortly afterward he received your orders to remain at Harrisonburg. He sent for me, and we had a full conversation on the subject, and I will at once state that as he explained the condition of things to me I fully concurred in his views.
The reasons for falling back to Mount Jackson are the following:
1st. Your order is based upon an imperfect knowledge of facts. When you sent it you knew nothing of the battle of the 8th nor of the defeat of Shields.
2nd. Shields being defeated, and, moreover, ordered to join McDowell in a movement on Richmond, Fremont alone would have Jackson on his hands, who can now move with perfect liberty, the more so, as, according to the best information we have, he has received considerable re-enforcements, which carry is force up to 29,000, while Banks is still too far off to support Fremont.
3rd. Fremont's force had dwindled down to 10,000 combatants at the outside, and these in a wretched condition. He has twenty-three regiments, which do not average over 400; some of them are mere skeletons. A great many foot-sore and without shoes, marching barefooted through the mud and over rocky ground. The horses are in a miserable condi-