General McClellan Ordered to Move Against Confederates

October 21, 1862

General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck confers with President Lincoln about the Army of the Potomac.  Halleck telegraphs the army’s commander, General George B. McClellan, that the president “directs me to say that he has no change to make in his order of the 6th instant. If you have not been and are not now in condition to obey it, you will be able to show such want of ability. The President does not expect impossibilities, but he is very anxious that all this good weather should not be wasted in inactivity. Telegraph when you will move, and on what lines you propose.” The president jots down notes based on a report by the Adjutant General’s office:

Grand total 231,997- Of them

Fit for duty 144,662

Ab[sent]. with leave, 66,808.

General McClellan writes President Lincoln: “Since the receipt of the President’s order to move on the enemy I have been making every exertion to get this Army supplied with clothing absolutely necessary for marching.  This I am happy to say is now nearly accomplished.  I have also during the same time repeatedly urged upon you the importance of supplying Cavalry and Artillery horses to replace those broken down by hard service, and steps have been taken to insure a prompt delivery.  Our Cavalry even when well supplied with horses is much inferior in numbers to that of the enemy, but in efficiency has proved itself superior.  So forcibly has this been impressed upon our old Cavalry Regts by repeated successes that the men are fully persuaded that they are equal to twice their number of rebel Cavalry.”

Exclusive of the Cavalry force now engaged in picketing the river, I have not at present over about one thousand (1000) horses for service.  Officers have been sent in various directions to purchase horses, & I expect them soon.  Without more Cavalry horses our communications from the moment we march would be at the march of the large Cavalry forces of the enemy forces of the enemy, and it would not be possible for us to cover our flanks properly or to obtain the necessary information of the position & movements of the enemy in such a way as to insure success.  My experience has shown the necessity of a large & efficient Cavalry force.  Under the foregoing circumstances I beg leave to ask whether the President desires me to march on the enemy at once, or to await the reception of the new horses, every possible step having been taken to insure their prompt arrival.

President Lincoln write to Ulysses S. Grant and Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson:

Major General Grant, Governor Johnson, & all having military, naval, and civil authority under the United States within the State of Tennessee.

The bearer of this, Thomas R. Smith, a citizen of Tennessee, goes to that state, seeking to have such of the people thereof as desire to avoid the unsatisfactory prospect before them, and to have peace again upon the old terms under the constitution of the United States, to manifest such desire by elections of members to the Congress of the United States particularly, and perhaps a legislature, State officers, and a United States’ Senator, friendly to their object.

I shall be glad for you and each of you to aid him, & all others acting for this object, as much as possible. In all available ways give the people a chance to express their wishes at these elections. Follow law, and forms of law as far as convenient; but at all events get the expression of the largest number of the people possible. All see how such action will connect with, and affect the proclamation of Sept. 22nd. Of course the men elected should be gentlemen of character, willing to swear support to the constitution as of old, & known to be above reasonable suspicion of duplicity.

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Published in: on October 21, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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