McClellan Campaign Concerns President Lincoln

May 14, 1862

Senator Orville H. Browning writes in his diary about his conversation with President Lincoln: “At night went to the Presidents and had a long talk with him about his expedition to York Town, Fortress Monroe &c.  He gave me all the details and particulars of his trip and what he did.   He sent Commodore Rodgers up James River with a fleet after having had a struggle with Goldsborough on the subject.  He also devised and Caused to be executed the march upon York Town under Wool which resulted in its Capture — having, himself, the day before explored the Coast and found a landing place for the troops.”

General George B. McClellan writes President Lincoln in his own defense and to request more troops:

I have more than twice telegraphed to the Secretary of war, stating that, in my opinion, the enemy were concentrating all their available force to fight this army in front of Richmond, and that such ought to be their policy.  I have received no reply whatever to any of these telegraphs.  I beg leave to repeat their substance to your Excellency and to ask that kind consideration which you have ever accorded to my representations and views.  All my information from every source accessible to me, establishes the fixed purpose of the rebels to defend Richmond against this Army by offering us battle with all the troops they can collect from East, West, and South, and my own opinion is confirmed by that of all my commanders whom I have been able to consult.

Casualties, sickness, garrisons, and guards have much weakened my force and will continue to do so.  I cannot bring into actual battle against the enemy more than eighty thousand men at the utmost, and with them I must attack in position, probably entrenched, a much larger force, perhaps double my numbers.  It is possible that Richmond may be abandoned without a serious struggle but the enemy are actually in great strength between and there and it would be unwise and even insane for me to calculate upon anything except a stubborn and desperate resistance.  If they should abandon Richmond it may well be that it is done with the purpose of making the stand at some place in Virginia south or west of there, and we should be in condition to press them without delay.  The Confederate leaders must employ their utmost efforts against this Army in Virginia, and they will be supported by the whole body of their military officers, among whom there may be said to be no Union feeling, as there is also very little among the higher class of citizens in the seceding states.  I have found no fighting men left in this Peninsula.  All are in the ranks of the opposing foe.  Even if more troops than I now have should prove unnecessary for the purposes of military occupation our greatest display of imposing force in the Capital of the Rebel Government will have the best moral effect.  I most respectfully and earnestly urge upon your Excellency that the opportunity has come for striking a fatal blow at the enemies of the Constitution and I beg that you will cause this Army to be reinforced without delay by all the disposable troops of the Government.  I ask for every man that the War Department can send me.  Sent by water, they will soon reach me.  Any commander of the reinforcements whom your Excellency may designate will be acceptable to me, whatever expression I may have heretofore addressed to you on the subject.  I will fight the enemy, whatever their force may be, with whatever force I may have, and I firmly believe that we shall beat them, but our triumph should be made decisive and complete.  The soldiers of this Army love their Government and will fight well in its support.  You may rely upon them.  They have confidence in me as their General and in you as their President.  Strong reinforcements will at least save the lives of many of them.  The greater the force, the more perfect will be our combinations and the less our loss.

For obvious reasons, I beg you to give immediate consideration to this communication and to inform me fully, at the earliest moment, of your final determination.

Published in: on May 14, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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