Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 28, 1862 (Wednesday): Lincoln Disappointed With a Victory

Richmond Area Railroads (Virginia Historical Society-Click to Enlarge)

28-12.30 a.m. 

Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
    Porter has gained two complete victories over superior forces, yet I feel obliged to move in the morning with re-enforcements to secure the complete destruction of the rebels in that quarter. In doing so I run some risk here, but I cannot help it. The enemy are even in greater force than I had supposed. I will do all that quick movements can accomplish, but you must send me all the troops you can, and leave to me full latitude as to choice of commanders. It is absolutely necessary to destroy the rebels near Hanover Court-House before I can advance.


Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

WASHINGTON, May 28, 1862.
    I am very glad to General F. J. Porter's victory. Still, if it was a total rout of the enemy, I am puzzled to know why the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad was not seized again, as you say have all the railroads but the Richmond and Fredericksburg. I am puzzled to see how, lacking that, you can have any, except the scrap from Richmond to West Point. The scrap of the Virginia Central from Richmond to Hanover Junction without more is simply nothing. That the whole of the enemy is concentrating on Richmond I think cannot be certainly known to you or me. Saxton, at Harper's Ferry, informs us that large forces supposed to be Jackson's and Ewell's, forced his advance from Charlestown to-day. General King telegraphs us from Fredericksburg that contrabands give certain information that 15,000 left Hanover Junction Monday morning to re-enforce Jackson. I am painfully impressed with the importance of the struggle before you, and shall aid you all I can consistently with my view of due regard to all points.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 1, Page 36.

McClellan hoped Porter's victory at Hanover Court House would reassure Lincoln and give him leeway to advance at his own pace.  He also believed the Confederates were concentrating on Richmond and operations in the Valley were a distraction.  Lincoln did not share this view and was still focused to a not inconsiderable degree on Jackson and Ewell's potential to threaten Harper's Ferry, repeating here an unfounded rumor of forces being sent from Richmond to reinforce Jackson. Lincoln was not satisfied with Porter's victory at Hanover Court House, believing it should have opened the way for an advance further west, taking the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad. 

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