for the support of our army. The accomplishment of any or all of these objects will necessarily depend upon circumstances which may daily and almost hourly change, and can properly be judged of only by the general in the field.
I gave you in my last a general outline of the condition of our affairs in the south and west and what we have to do there. As soon as the re-enforcements sent to Bragg can be spared, they will probably return against you. Whatever you can do should be done while they are absent. If you really think that nothing of importance can be accomplished, then it seems to me that it will be as well to withdraw your army to some point nearer Washington. In regard to lines of operations, I can see no advantage in a change to Aquia Creek. Indeed, I do not think that line as favorable as the one you are moving on.
I had written thus far when I received the inclosed letter from the President. Please keep me advised of your general plans. I fear that General Rosecrans will be hard pushed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, September 19, 1863.
By General Meade's dispatch to you of yesterday, it appears that he desires your views and those of the Government as to whether he shall advance upon the enemy. I am not prepared to order or even advise an advance in this case, wherein I know so little of the particulars, and wherein he, in the field, thinks the risk is so great and the promise of advantage so small. And yet the case presents matter for very serious consideration in another aspect. These two armies confront each other across a small river, substantially midway between the two capitals, each defending its own capital, and menacing the other. General Meade estimates the enemy's infantry in front of him at not less than 40,000. Suppose we add 50 per cent. to this for cavalry, artillery, and extra-duty men, stretching as far as Richmond, making the whole force of the enemy 60,000. General Meade, as shown by the returns, has with him, and between him and Washington, of the same classes of well men, over 90,000. Neither can bring the whole of his men into a battle, but each can bring as large a percentage in as the other. For a battle, then, General Meade has three men to General Lee's two. Yet, it having been determined that choosing ground and standing on the defensive gives so great advantage that the three cannot safely attack the two, the three are left simply standing on the defensive also. If the enemy's 60,000 are sufficient to keep our 90,000 away from Richmond, why, by the same rule, may not 40,000 of ours keep their 60,000 away from Washington, leaving us 50,000 to put to some other use? Having practically come to the mere defensive, it seems to be no economy at all to employ twice as many men for that object as are needed. With no object, certainly, to mislead myself, I can perceive no fault in this statement, unless we admit we are not the equal of the enemy, man for man. I hope you will consider it.
To avoid misunderstanding, let me say that to attempt to fight the