Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August 10, 1862 (Monday): The "Harsh and Unjust Tone" of Halleck

Union Troops In Quarters-Harrison's Landing (Library of Congress)

WASHINGTON, August 10, 1862-12 p.m.
The enemy is crossing the Rapidan in large force. They are fighting General Pope to-day. There must be no further delay in your movements. That which has already occurred was entirely unexpected, and must be satisfactorily explained. Let not a moment's time be lost, and telegraph me daily what progress you have made in executing the order to transfer your troops.


Major General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

Berkeley, August 10, 1862-11.30 p.m.
    Your dispatch of to-day is received. I assure you again that there has not been any unnecessary delay in carrying out your orders. You are probably laboring under some great mistake as to the amount of transportation available here. I have pushed matters to the utmost in getting off our sick and the troops your ordered to Burnside.
   Colonel Ingalls has more than once informed the Quartermaster-General of the condition of our water transportation. From the fact that you directed me to keep the order secret, I took if for granted that you would take the steps necessary to provide the requisite transportation.
    A large number of transports for all arms of service and for wagons should at once be sent to Yorktown and Fort Monroe.
    I shall be ready to move the whole army by land the moment the sick are disposed of. You may be sure that not an hour's delay will occur that can be avoided. I fear you do not realize the difficulty of the operation proposed.
    The regiment of cavalry for Burnside has been in course of embarkation to-day and to-night. Ten steamers were required for the purpose. Twelve hundred and fifty-eight sick loaded to-day and to-night. Our means exhausted, except one vessel returning to Fort Monroe in the morning, which will take some 500 cases of slight sickness.
    The present moment is probably not the proper one for me to refer to the unnecessarily harsh and unjust tone of your telegrams of late. It will, however, make no difference to my official action.

Major-General, Commanding.

Major General H. W. HALLECK, Commanding U. S. Army.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 1, Page 86.

Once the decision was made to remove McClellan's force from before Richmond it was imperative the move be made quickly, lest Lee steal and march northward and reunite his army with Jackson before Union forces could reach Aquia Creek and be redeployed.  In fairness to McClellan, the movement of over 90,000 men would require massive amounts of transportation and was not easily accomplished.  But with Jackson on the loose and having pushed back Banks at Cedar Mountain, and Lee shortly to be no longer fixed in Richmond's defenses, time was essential.

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