New Orleans Surrenders: McClellan is Besieged

April 27, 1862

Hearing rumors of the surrender of New Orleans, Commander John Dahlgren went to the White House from the Washington Navy Yard.  ‘There’s the dispatch, read it.” said President Lincoln.

The cabinet has a rare evening session.   Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, buttressed by General James Wadsworth, accuse General George B. McClellan of failing to follow orders requiring him to provide adequate troops for Washington’s protection. McClellan writes Stanton: “From the beginning I had intended, so far as I might have the power to carry out my own views, to abandon the line of Manassas as the line of advance — I ever regarded it as an improper one; my wish was to adopt a new line, based upon the waters of the lower Chesapeake.  I always expected to meet with strong opposition on this line, the strongest that the rebels could offer, but I was well aware that after overcoming this opposition the result would be decisive, & pregnant with great results….

This order [removing Fort Monroe from his command] deprived me of the support of another Division which had been authorized to form for active operations from among the troops near Fort Monroe.  Thus when I came under fire, I found myself weaker by five Divisions (near 50,000 men) than I had expected when the movement commenced.  It is more than probable that no General ever was placed in such a position before.  Finding myself thus unexpectedly weakened & with a powerful enemy strongly entrenched in my front I was compelled to change my plans & become cautious.  Could I have retained my original force I confidently believe that I would now have been in front of Richmond instead of where I now am — the probability is that that city would now have been in our possession.

President Lincoln also writes Andrew Johnson, the war governor of Tennessee who would later be Lincoln’s second vice president: “Your despatch of yesterday just received–as also, in due course, was your former one.  The former one, was sent to Gen. Halleck, and we have his answer, by which I have no doubt he, Gen. Halleck, is in communication with you before this.  Gen. Halleck understands better than we can here, and he must be allowed to control in that quarter.  If you bare not in communication with Halleck, telegraph him at once, fully, and frankly.”

Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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