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5 Series I Volume XII-II Serial 16 - Second Manassas Part II

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Page 5 Chapter XXIV. GENERAL REPORTS.

in compliance with the President's order of July 11, I assumed the command of the Army as General-in-Chief.

The first thing to which my attention was called on my arrival here was the condition of the army at Harrison's Landing, on the James River. I immediately visited General McClellan's headquarters for consultation. I left Washington on the 24th and returned on the 27th. The main object of this consultation was to ascertain if there was a possibility of an advance upon Richmond from Harrison's Landing, and, if not, to form some plan of uniting the armies of General McClellan and General Pope on some other line. Not being familiar with the position and numbers of the troops in Virginia and on the coast, I took the President's estimate of the largest number of re-enforcements that could then be sent to the Army of the Potomac.

On the day of my arrival at Harrison's Landing General McClellan was of opinion that he would require at least 50,000 additional troops. I informed him that this number could not possibly be sent, that I was not authorized to promise him over 20,000, and that I could not well see how even that number could be safely withdrawn from other places. He took the night for considering the matter, and informed me next morning that he would make the attempt upon Richmond with the additional 20,000; but immediately on my return to Washington he telegraphed that he would require 35,000 - a force which it was impossible to send him without leaving Washington and Baltimore almost defenseless. The only alternative now left was to withdraw the Army of the Potomac to some position where it could unite with that of General Pope, and cover Washington at the same time that it operated against the enemy. After full consultation with my officers I determined to attempt this junction on the Rappahannock by bringing McClellan's forces to Aquia Creek. Accordingly, on the 30th of July, I telegraphed to him to send away his sick as quickly as possible, preparatory to a movement of his troops. This was preliminary to the withdrawal of his entire army, which was ordered by telegraph on the 3rd of August. In order that the transfer to Aquia Creek might be made as rapidly as possible, I authorized General McClellan to assume control of all vessels in the James River and Chesapeake Bay, of which there was then a vast fleet. The Quartermaster-General was also requested to send to that point all the transports that could be procured.

On the 5th I received a protest from General McClellan, dated the 4th, against the removal of the army from Harrison's Landing; a copy of which is annexed, marked Exhibit Numbers 1, with my reply on the 6th, marked Exhibit Numbers 2.

On the 1st of August I ordered General Burnside to immediately embark his troops at Newport News, transfer them to Aquia Creek, and take position opposite Fredericksburg. This officer moved with great promptness, and reached Aquia Creek on the night of the 3rd. His troops were immediately landed and the transports sent back to General McClellan.

About this time I received information that the enemy was preparing a large force to drive back General Pope and attack either Washington or Baltimore. The information was so direct and reliable that I could not doubt its correctness. This gave me serious uneasiness for the safety of the capital and Maryland, and I repeatedly urged upon General McClellan the necessity of promptly moving his army so as to form a junction with that of General Pope. The evacuation of Harrison's


Page 5 Chapter XXIV. GENERAL REPORTS.

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