War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0070 Chapter XXXI. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA.

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veterans, but the morale of others had been a good deal impaired in those severely contested actions, and they required time to recover as well as to acquire the necessary drill and discipline.

Under these circumstances I did not feel authorized to cross the river with the main army over a very deep and difficult ford in pursuit of the retreating enemy, known to be in strong force on the south bank, and thereby place that stream, which was liable at any time to rise above a fording stage, between my army and its base of supply.

I telegraphed on the 22nd to the General-in-Chief as follows:

As soon as the exigencies of the service will admit of it, this army should be reorganized. It is absolutely necessary, to secure its efficiency, that the old skeleton regiments should be filled up at once, and officers appointed to supply the numerous existing vacancies. There are instances where captains are commanding regiments, and companies are without a single commissioned officer.

On the 23rd the following was telegraphed to the General-in-Chief:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Near Shepherdstown, September 23, 1862-9.30 a. m.

Major-General HALLECK,

General-in-Chief, Washington:

From several different sources I learn that General R. E. Lee is still opposite to my position at Leetown, between Shepherdstown and Martinsburg, and that General Jackson is on the Opequon Creek, about 3 miles above its mouth, both with large forces. There are also indications of heavy re-enforcements moving toward them from Winchester and Charlestown. I have, therefore, ordered General Franklin to take position with his corps at the cross-roads, about 1 mile northwest of Bakersville, on the Bakersville and Williamsport road, and General Couch to establish his division near Downsville, leaving sufficient force at Williamsport to watch and guard the ford at that place. The fact of the enemy's remaining so long in our front, and the indications of an advance of re-enforcements, seem to indicate that he will give us another battle with all his available force.

As I mentioned to you before, our army has been very much reduced by casualties in the recent battles, and in my judgement all the re-enforcements of old troops that can possibly be dispensed with around Washington and other places should be instantly pushed forward by rail to this army. A defeat at this juncture would be ruinous to our cause. I cannot think it possible that the enemy will bring any forces to bear upon Washington till after the question is decided here, but if he should, troops can soon be sent back from this army by rail to re-enforce the garrison there.

The evidence I have that re-enforcements are coming to the rebel army consists in the fact that long columns of dust extending from Winchester to Charlestown and from Charlestown in this direction, and also troops moving this way, were seen last evening. This is corroborated by citizens. General Sumner, with his corps and Williams'(Banks'), occupies Harper's Ferry and the surrounding heights. I think he will be able to hold his position till re-enforcements arrive.

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN,

Major-General.

On the 27th I made the following report:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

September 27, 1862-10 a. m.

All the information in my possession goes to prove that the main body of the enemy is concentrated no far from Martinsburg, with some troops at Charlestown; not many in Winchester. Their movements of late have been an extension toward our right and beyond it. They are receiving re-enforcements in Winchester, mainly, I think, of conscripts, perhaps entirely so.

This army is not now in condition to undertake another campaign nor to bring on another battle, unless great advantages are offered by same mistake of the enemy or pressing military exigencies render it necessary. We are greatly deficient in officers. Many of the old regiments are reduced to mere skeletons. The new regiments need instruction. Not a day should be lost in filling the old regiments-our main dependence-and in supplying vacancies among the officers by promotion.

My present purpose is to hold the army about as it is now, rendering Harper's Ferry secure and watching the river closely, intending to attack the enemy should he attempt to cross to this side.

Our possession of Harper's Ferry gives us the great advantage of a secure debouche, but we cannot avail ourselves of it until the railroad bridge is finished, because we