since the battle of Fredericksburg, a battle which made veterans of your troops, and added more strength by this than it took from your army by losses in the field.
General Halleck tells me that you believe your numbers are greater than the enemy's and yet the army waits! Some officers talk of having done enough; of going into winter quarters. This I do not understand to be your though, but I am told that you probably find opinions differ as to the possibility of any proposed movement. In so great a matter, on which so much depends, there will be always differences of opinion. There are few men who are capable of taking the responsibility of bringing on such a great conflict as a battle between two such armies as oppose each other at Fredericksburg. So long as you consult your principal officers together, the result will be that proverbial of councils of was. Upon the commander, to whom all the glory of success will attach, must rest the responsibility of deciding the plan of campaign. Every day weakens your army; every good day lost is a golden opportunity in the career of our country-lost forever. Exhaustion steals over the country. Confidence and hope are dying. While I have been always sure that ultimate success must attend the cause of freedom, justice, and government sustained by 18,000,000 against that of oppression, perjury, and treason supported by 5,000,000, I begin to doubt the possibility of maintaining the contest beyond this winter, unless the popular heart is encouraged by victory on the Rappahannock.
The Treasury fails not only to pay the troops, but to pay for the hire of the vessels and laborers employed in supplying them, and for the forage bought for your cavalry, artillery, and trains. Suppose the army broken up for want of rations and forage, what a prospect for the country!
Permit me to call your attention to the plan of operations of which I spoke at Aquia.
While the retirement of the rebel army from your front, consequent upon any movement, would prolong the contest, and be a misfortune, even this would give some hope and heart to the country. But what is needed is a great and overwhelming defeat and destruction of that army. Such a victory would be of incalculable value. It would place upon your head the wreath of immortal glory. It would place your name at the side of Washington. No battle fought with your back to the North or to the sea can give you such a victory. This enemy has shown his skill in retreat, and when he finds the day going against him he will retreat-will save the bulk of his army and compel a siege of Richmond, during which, as when McClellan invested it, he will gather up his forces for another struggle, and will cut your lines of supply and communication. In a desolated country, it will be almost impossible to support your army during a siege.
If by such a march as Napoleon made at Jena, as Lee made in his campaign against Pope, you throw your whole army upon his communications, interpose between him and Richmond, or even take a position, to the southwest of the bulk of his army, and he fights, if you are successful, he has no retreat. His army would be dispersed, and the greater portion of it would throw down its arms. The artillery and baggage and camps would fall into your hands. The gain of the position would give you the strategic victory. Your troops, appreciating the means and the object of the march, would be confident of victory, while the rebels would be discouraged,and would expect defeat. You have a train able to carry
many days' supplies. There would be risk, of course. No operation of war is without it. The rebel army will not