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selected to direct the operations in a department including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Western Virginia. In the affairs of Philippi, Rich Mountain, and Carrick's Ford, he had acquired a reputation for skill and conduct which caused the distracted Federal Government, at its wit's end for a general after the disaster of Bull's Run, to grasp at him as the hope of the Union. He was invited, in August 1861, to submit to the President his views of the military and political situation of affairs, and as the document in which he conveyed them is interesting, both in itself and as a key to the mind of the writer, we give it almost at length :

"On the 4th August 1861 I addressed to the President the following memorandum at his request:


"The object of the present war dif

fers from those in which nations are usually engaged, mainly in this: That the purpose of ordinary war is to conquer a peace, and make a treaty on advantageous terms. In this contest it has become necessary to crush a population sufficiently numerous, intelligent, and warlike to constitute a nation. We have not only to defeat their armed and organised forces in the field, but to display such an overwhelming strength as will convince all our antagonists, especially those of the governing aristocratic class, of the utter impossibility of re

sistance. Our late reverses make this course imperative. Had we been successful in the recent battle (Manassas), it is possible that we might have been spared the labour and expense of a great effort; now we have no alternative. Their success will enable the political leaders of the rebels to convince the mass of their people that we are inferior to them in force and courage, and to command all their resources. The contest began with a class; now it is with a people. Our military success can alone restore the former issue.

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'By thoroughly defeating their armies, taking their strong places, and pursuing a rigidly protective policy as to private property and unarmed persons, and a lenient course as to private soldiers, we may well hope for a permanent restoration of a peaceful Union. But in the first instance, the authority of the Government must be supported by overwhelming physical force.

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"Without entering at present into details, I would advise that a strong movement be made on the Mississippi, and that the rebels be driven out of Missouri.

"As soon as it becomes perfectly clear that Kentucky is cordially united with us, I would advise a movement through that state into Eastern Tennessee, for the purpose of assisting the Union men of that region, and of seizing the railroads leading from Memphis to the east.


The possession of these roads by us in connection with the movement on the Mississippi, would go far towards determining the evacuation of Virginia by the rebels. In the mean time all the passes into Western Virginia from the east should be securely guarded; but I would advise no movement from that quarter towards Richmond, tucky renders it impossible, unless the political condition of Kenor inexpedient for us to make the movement upon Eastern Tennessee through that State. Every effort should, however, be made to organise, equip, and arm as many troops as possible in Western Virginia, in order to render the Ohio and Indiana regiments available for other operations. At as early a day as practicable, it would be well to protect and re-open the Baltimore and Ohio railroad.

“Baltimore and Fort Monroe should be occupied by garrisons sufficient to retain them in our possession. The importance of Harper's Ferry and the line of the Potomac, in the direction of Leesburg, will be very materially diminished so soon as our force in this vicinity becomes organised, strong, and efficient, because no capable general will cross the river north of this city when we have a strong army here ready to cut

off his retreat.

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"For the main army of operations F
urge the following composition:-
250 regiments of infantry, say, 225,000

100 field batteries, 60 guns,
28 regiments cavalry,
5 do.

engineer troops,





"The force must be supplied with the necessary engineer and pontoon trains, and with transportation for everything save tents. Its general line of operations should be so directed that water transportation can be availed of, from point to point, by means of the ocean and the rivers emptying into it. An essential feature of the plan of operations will be the employment of a strong naval force to protect the movements of a fleet of transports intended to convey a considerable body of troops from point to point of the enemy's seacoast, thus either creating diversions, and rendering it necessary to detach largely from their main body in order to protect such of their cities as may be threatened, or else landing and forming establishments on their coast at any favourable places that opportunity might offer. This naval force should also co-operate with the main army in its efforts to seize the important seaboard towns of the rebels.

"It cannot be ignored that the construction of railroads has introduced a

new and very important element into war, by the great facilities thus given for concentrating at particular positions large masses of troops from remote sections, and by creating new strategic points and lines of operations. It is intended to overcome this difficulty by the partial operations suggested, and such other as the particular case may require. We must endeavour to seize places on the railways, in the rear of the enemy's points of concentration, and we must threaten their seaboard cities, in order that each State may be forced, by the necessity of its own defence, to diminish its contingent to the Confederate army.

"The proposed movement down the Mississippi will produce important results in this connection. That advance, and the progress of the main army at the east, will materially assist each other by diminishing the resistance to be encountered by each.

[Some political suggestions here.]

The force I have recommended is large, the expense is great. It is possible that a smaller force might accomplish the object in view; but I understand it to be the purpose of this great nation to re-establish the power of its Government, and to restore peace to its citizens in the shortest possible time. The question to be decided is simply this, Shall we crush the rebellion at one blow, terminate the war in one campaign; or shall we leave it as a legacy to our descendants?

"When the extent of the possible line

of operations is considered, the force asked for the main army under my command cannot be regarded as unduly large. Every mile we advance carries us farther from our base of operations, and renders detachments necessary to cover our communications, while the enemy will be constantly concentrating as he falls back. I propose, with the force which I have requested, not only to drive the enemy out of Virginia and to occupy Richmond, but to occupy Charleston, Savannah, Montgomery, Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans; in other words, to move into the heart of the enemy's country, and crush out the rebellion in its very heart.


By seizing and repairing the railroads as we advance, the difficulties of transportation will be materially diminished. It is perhaps unnecessary to state that, in addition to the forces named in this memorandum, strong reserves should be formed, ready to supply any losses that may occur.

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The opening of this memorandum shows that he took a view which, uncommon at the time, was in consonance with reason and fact. It is impossible to read the paper without recognising the moderation, humanity, and good sense of the writer, displayed at a juncture when those qualities were especially rare and valuable. Accustomed as we are to the inflated nonsense of Mr Seward's state papers, and the bombastic reports of other Federal generals, which their deeds have often so little justified, we are the more ready to appreciate the temperate and honourable sentiments of McClellan.

In estimating the military sagacity displayed, we must remember that his are not the opinions of an irresponsible essayist, inconsiderately formed and hastily delivered, but the deliberate judgment of a rising general, called to the councils of the state. On such a paper, if it were submitted to a sagacious ruler, might rest the whole future fortunes of the writer.

We may

presume, then, that we have here the very ripest conclusions that McClellan could at that time form.

Events have long since proved one of his opinions to be unsound, namely, that the possession of the

roads of Tennessee, in connection with a movement on the Mississippi, would go far towards determining the evacuation of Virginia. The strongholds of the Mississippi have been captured; and not only the roads of Tennessee held, but an army supplied by those roads has moved deep into Georgia: yet the Confederates still defy in Virginia the main army of the Federals.

It might be inferred from his language that he considered it proper to make the first great struggle in Virginia, because the Confederates had chosen it for their battle-field. If so, the reason is quite inadequate, and is, in fact, no reason at all for choosing that line of invasion. To operate in a certain portion of the theatre of war merely because the enemy has already occupied it, is to abandon to him that great advantage in war known as "the initiative," which consists in selecting a line, and compelling the enemy to make his operations subordinate to those of the invader.

rivers on campaigns in the Southern territory, though just, are obvious, and familiar to all students of war; and are only justified in a document like the present by the fact that they were intended for the enlightenment of a President who could not be supposed to know anything of the subject. Regarding this memorandum then as the work of a scientific soldier who had bestowed long and patient thought on a military problem of the deepest interest to him, we must consider it to be deficient in definiteness, distinctness, and originality. But it possesses the merit, a very considerable one at that time, of rightly estimating the nature of the struggle and the magnitude of the preparations required for success. We must remember that at this time Mr Seward was designating the Southern Secessionists as 'a weak and failing faction," and assigning "ninety days" as the period of their resistance; while the Northern press, recovered from its recent panic, was proclaiming its confidence in Federal prowess in the contemptuous tone (maintained, with a few intervals of frantic terror, down to the present time) with which Goliah of Gath advanced upon his puny foe.


There is a vagueness in his sketch of the general plan which seems to show that his mind had failed to grasp as a whole the vast extent of the theatre of war from Washington to Memphis. His plan, too, of seizing and occupying points of the enemy's coast "at any favourable In November 1861 McClellan places that opportunity might offer" was placed in chief and general is essentially unsound; for even on command of the Federal armies, the supposition that the Northern and issued instructions to his subforces greatly outnumbered the ordinates, Burnside, Halleck, Butenemy, the numerical superiority ler, and Buell. In the following might be turned by an able general February the President desired to to much better account by concen- commence concerted operations. trating than by dispersing them. McClellan proposed to operate in But if by "threatening their sea- Virginia from the lower Potomac, board cities," he means to employ Lincoln from Washington. McClel a single force in making rapid lan proceeds to discuss the two descents on various points, so as to plans. The Confederate front at keep many defensive bodies of the that time stretched from the position enemy in doubt as to the real point of Manassas on the left to below the of attack, he is indicating, though point where the Occoquan meets the not with sufficient clearness, the Rappahannock on the right, and it right way of turning to account is unnecessary to remind the reader the great advantage of having the that the roads between Washington and Richmond, and Fredericksburg and Richmond, are intersected by several important rivers.

mastery at sea.

His remarks about the railways and the influence of the navigable

"Two bases of operations," says McClellan, seem to present themselves for the advance of the Army of the Potomac.

"1. That of Washington, its present position, involving a direct attack upon the intrenched positions of the enemy at Centreville, Manassas, &c.; or else a movement to turn one or both flanks of those positions; or a combination of the two plans.

"The relative force of the two armies will not justify an attack on both flanks: an attack on his left flank alone involves a long line of waggon communication, and cannot prevent him from collecting for the decisive battle all the detachments now on his extreme right and left.

"Should we attack his right flank by the line of the Occoquan, and a crossing of the Potomac below that river and near his batteries, we could, perhaps, prevent the junction of the enemy's right with his centre (we might destroy the former); we would remove the obstructions to the navigation of the Potomac, reduce the length of waggon transportation by establishing new depots at the nearest points of the Potomac, and strike more directly his main railway communication."

He goes on to detail the combinations for this operation; and assuming it to be successful, and the enemy forced to the intrenchments of Richmond, he says:

"The question at once arises as to the importance of the results gained. I think these results would be confined to the possession of the field of battle, the evacuation of the line of the upper Potomac by the enemy, and the moral effect of the victory-important results, it is true, but not decisive of the war, nor securing the destruction of the enemy's main army, for he could fall back upon other positions, and fight us again and again should the condition of his troops permit. If he is in no condition to fight us again out of range of the intrenchments at Richmond, we would find it a very difficult and tedious matter to follow him up there, for he would destroy his railroad bridges, and otherwise impede our progress through a region where the roads are as bad as they well can be, and we would probably find ourselves forced at last to change the whole theatre of war, or to seek a shorter land route to Richmond, with a smaller available force, and at an expenditure of much more time, than were


we to adopt the short line at once. would also have forced the enemy to concentrate and perfect his defensive measures at the very points where it is desirable to strike him when least prepared.

"2. The second base of operations available for the Army of the Potomac is that of the lower Chesapeake Bay, which affords the shortest possible land route to Richmond, and strikes directly at the heart of the enemy's power in the east.

"The roads in that region are passable at all seasons of the year.


The country now alluded to is much more favourable for offensive operations than that in front of Washington (which is very unfavourable) — much more level, more cleared land, the woods less dense, the soil more sandy, the spring some two or three weeks earlier. A movement in force on that line obliges the enemy to abandon his intrenched position at Manassas, in order to hasten to cover Richmond and Norfolk. He must do this; for should he permit us to occupy Richmond, his destruction can only be averted by entirely defeating us in a battle in which he must be the assailant. This movement, if successful, gives us the capital, the communications, the supplies of the rebels. Norfolk would fall; all the waters of the Chesapeake would be ours; all Virginia would be in our power, and the enemy forced to abandon Tennessee and North Carolina. The alternative presented to the enemy would be to beat us in a position selected by ourselves, disperse, or pass beneath the Caudine Forks.

Should we be beaten in a battle, we have a perfectly secure retreat down the peninsula upon Fort Monroe, with our flanks perfectly covered by the fleet. During the whole movement our left flank is covered by the water; our right is secure, for the reason that the enemy is too distant to reach us in time; he can only oppose us in front; we bring our fleet into full play.

"After a successful battle our position would be ;-Burnside forming our left, Norfolk held securely, our centre connecting Burnside with Buell, both by Raleigh and Lynchburg, Buell in East Tennessee and North Alabama, Halleck at Nashville and Memphis.

"The next movement would be to connect with Sherman on the left, by re

ducing Wilmington and Charleston; to

advance our centre into South Carolina and Georgia, to push Buell either towards Montgomery or to unite with the main army in Georgia; to throw Hal

leck southward to meet the naval expedition from New Orleans.

"We should then be in a condition to reduce, at our leisure, all the Southern seaports; to occupy all the avenues of communication; to use the great outlet of the Mississippi; to re-establish our government and arms in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas; to force the slaves to labour for our subsistence instead of that of the rebels; to bid defiance to all foreign interference. Such is the object I ever had in view; this is the general plan which I hope to accomplish.


'Should it be determined to operate from the lower Chesapeake, the point of landing which promises the most the most brilliant results is Urbana, on the lower

Rappahannock. This point is easily reached by vessels of heavy draught; it is neither occupied nor observed by the enemy; it is but one march from West Point, the key of that region, and thence but two marches to Richmond. A rapid movement from Urbana would probably cut off Magruder in the Peninsula, and enable us to occupy Richmond before it could be strongly reinforced. Should we fail in that, we could, with the co-operation of the navy, cross the James and show ourselves in rear of Richmond, thus forcing the encmy to come out and attack us; for his position would be untenable with us on the southern bank of the river.

"Should circumstances render it advisable not to land at Urbana, we can use Mob Jack Bay,-or the worst coming to the worst, we can take Fort Monroe as a base, and operate with complete security, although with less celerity and brilliancy of results, up Peninsula."


After some further details for the proposed concentration, he says:

"My judgment as a general is clearly in favour of this project. Nothing is certain in war, but all the chances are in favour of this movement. So much am I in favour of the southern line of

operations, that I would prefer the move from Fort Monroe as a base, as a certain, though less brilliant, movement than that from Urbana, to an attack upon Manassas.

We presume that Mr Lincoln would not imagine that either his previous occupation as a rail-split

ter, or the fact of his election as

President, could of itself qualify him for delivering grave opinions on extensive military combinations.

It may be inferred that his ideas on the subject were derived from those officers in whose judgment he most confided. We have these ideas then, on the one side, and those of McClellan on the other. As a matter of military theory, McClellan was altogether in the right. But his judgment has received other than theoretical con


firmation as regards the difficulties to be encountered in advancing from the Potomac. Facts have endorsed his opinion in characters of blood. Pope, Hooker, Burnside, and above all, Grant, have been so many involuntary illustrators of their predecessor's sagacity. Viewed by the light of this summer's campaign, the words we have italicised assume a character of prophecy. "We would probably find ourselves forced at last to change the whole theatre of war, or to seek a shorter land route to Richmond, with a smaller available force, and at an expenditure of much more time, than were we to adopt the short line at once." Yet, when the result so plainly foretold actually came to pass, the sages of the North did not cease to assert, even up to the movement against Petersburg, that all the vain assaults on Lee's posi tions, all the carnage, all the cir cling marches of the baffled invaders round their object, were so many incidents calculated on in the original plan of the assured victor.

McClellan, then, rightly estimated the difficulties in the way of the President's plan, and the inadequate results it offered if completely suc cessful. How far his own design was to be preferred may best be considered after reviewing the incidents of the campaign in the

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