Second Battle of Bull Run Commences

August 29, 1862

As both Union and Confederate forces maneuvered for position around Manassas, Virginia, President Lincoln struggled to figure out what was going on.  Presidential aide John Hay writes of a conversation with President Lincoln regarding General George B. McClellan: “We talked about the state of things by Bull Run and Pope’s prospect.  The President was very outspoken in regard to McClellan’s present conduct.  He said it really seemed to him that McC. wanted Pope defeated.  He mentioned to me a despatch of McC in which he proposed, as one plan of action, to “leave Pope to get out of his own scrape, and devote ourselves to securing Washington.”  He spoke also of McC’s dreadful cowardice in the matter of Chain Bridge, which he had ordered blown up the night before, but which order had been countermanded; and also of his incomprehensible interference with Franklin’s corps which he recalled once, and then when they had been sent ahead by Halleck’s sharp injunction to push them ahead to push them ahead till they whipped something or got whipped themselves.  The President seemed to think him a little crazy.  Envy, jealousy, and spite are probably a batter explanation of his present conduct.  He is constantly sending despatches to the President and Halleck asking what is his real position and command.  He acts as chief alarmist and grand marplot of the Army.”

General McClellan writes to Abraham Lincoln: “The last news I received from the direction of Manassas was from stragglers to the effect that the enemy were evacuating Centreville & retiring towards Thorofare gap.  This by no means reliable.  I am clear that one of two courses should be adopted — 1st To concentrate all our available forces to open communication with Pope — 2nd To leave Pope to get out of his scrape & at once use all our means to make the Capital perfectly safe.  No middle course will now answer.  Tell me what you wish me to do & I will do all in my power to accomplish it.  I wish to know what my orders & authority are — I ask for nothing, but will obey whatever orders you give.”  He added: “I only ask a prompt decision that I may at once give the necessary orders.  It will not do to delay longer.”

The disorder within General John Pope’s command was blamed on McClellan and his subordinates.   Historian Bruce Tap wrote: “General Herman Haupt, an associate of John Covode, provided disturbing evidence of lukewarm patriotism from Second Bull Run.  Charged with operating the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, Haupt had authority from Halleck to arrest anyone who interfered with it.  According to Haupt, many officers close to McClellan wasted two or three days trying to arrange railroad transportation when they could have marched to Poe’s aid in a day.”       The leaders of the dump-McClellan movement in Washington were Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase.

Chase writes in his diary: “The Secretary of War called on me in reference to Genl. McClellan.  He has long believed, and so have I, that Genl. McClellan ought not to be trusted with the command of any army of the Union; and the vents of the last few days have greatly strengthened our judgment.– We called on Judge Bates, who was not at home.– Called on Genl. Halleck, and remonstrated against Gen. McClellan commanding.– Secy. wrote and presented to Genl. H. a call for a report touching McC’s disobedience of orders and consequent delay of support to Army of Va. Genl. H. promised answer tomorrow morning.”

Published in: on August 29, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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