June 26, 1862
Fed up with trying to coordinate the actions of three generals in the Shenandoah Valley – John C. Frémont, Nathaniel Banks, and Irvin McDowell – President Lincoln orders the formation of the Army of Virginia under General John Pope:
1…..The forces under Major Generals Fremont, Banks and McDowell, including the troops now under Brigadier General Sturgis at Washington, shall be consolidated and form one army, to be called the Army of Virginia.
2…..The command of the Army of Virginia is specially assigned to Major General John Pope as commanding General. The troops of the Mountain Department, heretofore under command of General Fremont shall constitute the first army corps, under the command of General Fremont; the troops of the Shenandoah Department, now under General Banks, shall constitute the second army corps, and be commanded by him; the troops under the command of General McDowell, except those within the fortifications and city of Washington, shall form the third army corps and be under his command.
3….The Army of Virginia shall operate in such manner as, while protecting western Virginia and the National Capitol from danger or insult, it shall in the speediest manner attack and overcome the rebel forces under Jackson and Ewell, threaten the enemy in the direction of Charlottesville, and render the most effective aid to relieve General McClellan and capture Richmond.
4…..When the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Virginia shall be in position to communicate and directly cooperate at, or before Richmond, the chief command while so operating together shall be governed, as, in like cases, by the rules and Articles of War.
Pope biographer Peter Cozzens wrote that “Although there was much in Pope’s military record to recommend him for the command, President Lincoln, at the insistence of Stanton and Chase, had chosen Pope more for political purposes than for his battlefield abilities. Weary of McClellan’s demands for more troops, suspicious of his conservative, Democratic politics, and exasperated with his kid-glove treatment of Southern non-combatants, Stanton and Chase wanted a general who would fight their war — a hard, relentless contest, unsparing of the Southern populace, especially in Virginia. Chase argued for Pope primarily on policy grounds, with a bit of old-fashioned patronage thrown in . But Stanton wanted Pope in the East specifically to humiliate McClellan, whom he detested personally and actually believed a traitor.”
President Lincoln writes General George B. McClellan, who consistently overestimates the size of the Confederate forces: “Your three dispatches of yesterday in relation to the affair, ending with the statement that you completely succeeded in making your point, are very gratifying. The later one of 6:15 p.m., suggesting the probability of your being overwhelmed by 200,000, and taking of where the responsibility will belong, pains me very much. I give you all I can, and act on the presumption that you will do the best you can with what you have, while you continue, ungenerously I think, to assume that I could give you more if I would. I have omitted and shall omit no opportunity to send you reenforcements whenever I possibly can.”