The Salmon P. Chase Papers - Vol. 3

By John Niven; James P. McClure et al. | Go to book overview

Since writing the foregoing I have seen the Secretary and have also attended a general consultation of the Officers of the War Department and the Cabinet Officers. McClellans appeals for reinforcement were very urgent, and it was determined to send him McCalls division from Fredericksburgh. The first suggestion was to send King's from Catlett's3 and it was about being determined on when I suggested that it would answer the Presidents general view towards Charlottesville better to send McCalls & leave Kings to you. The President approved this suggestion & the substitution was made accordingly and a direction given to telegraph the arrangement to you and let you make such provision for Fredericksburgh as you thought best.4I then tried to get the President to direct your forward movement, but he was not prepared to do so. I fear your despatch proposing departmental changes in boundaries perplexed matters a little.5If I were you I would move forward with all the force I could move towards Charlottesville & Lynchburgh. This movement would be a pursuit of Jackson as well as a movement for other objects quite as important as his capture. I would telegraph the Secretary "I mean to catch Jackson if possible if not to break up the depots and railroad connexions at Charlottesville and Lynchburgh. Support me with all the supplies you can[,] and when I need more force give it to me if you can" And I would let the Departments of Fremont & Banks arrange themselves, and not perplex folks at Washington with any propositions about them.

I am very confident, dear General, that this course would be most acceptable both to the President and the Secretary; I believe your movements would be crowned with brilliant results and that your name would become a household word in patriot homes.

Observe I do not mean to say that your proposition about Departments is not a good one, or that the President may not adopt it. But we cannot afford the time for the consideration of the various questions, military & political, and semi military & semi-political, which grow out of it. Let us have the movement first and let departmental arrangements grow. Your Department now is right for the proposed movement. When made other [arrange]ments will naturally adapt themselves to it.

For[gi]ve the earnest freedom with which I write. R[ej]ect all suggestions you do not approve and be sure I shall be satisfied that your judgment is better than mine[.] Only act on your own judgment--do not wait for directions [from] Washington more [then] disregard them when they do come[.] Except when restrained by positive instructions in writing do [your] own thinking, moving & fighting--and when you accomplish anything, report it in the fewest and most energetic words possible. You know I believe in reports--by Generals.

By the way I must tell you that McClellan's loss was very heavy-- Heintzelman reports over ±5900 men, killed, wounded & missing in his

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