Monday, June 24, 2013

June 25, 1863 (Thursday): "...standing on my head or my feet."

General Joseph Hooker

June 24, 1863.
Major-General HALLECK,
    The aspect of the enemy is not much changed from yesterday. Ewell, I conclude, is over the river, and now is up the country, I suppose, for purposes of plunder. The yeomanry of that district should be able to check any extended advance of that column, and protect themselves from their aggression.
    Of the troops that marched to the river at Shepherdstown yesterday, I cannot learn that any have crossed, and as soon as I do I shall commence moving, myself, and, indeed, am preparing my new acquisitions for that event; the others are ready. General French is now on his way to Harper's Ferry, and I have given directions for the force at Poolesville to march and report to him, and also for all of Stahel's cavalry, and, if I can do it without attracting observation, I shall send over a corps or two from here, in order, if possible, to sever Ewell from the balance of the rebel army, in case he should make a protracted sojourn with his Pennsylvania neighbors.
    If the enemy should conclude not to throw any additional force over the river, I desire to make Washington secure, and, with all the force I can muster, strike for his line of retreat in the direction of Richmond.
   I cannot learn the strength of Heintzelman's and Schenck's commands, nor where they are stationed, and hence I send my chief of staff to Washington and Baltimore to ascertain, and also to start out a column of about 15, 000 men on the National road as far as Frederick City. In any contingency, whether of an advance or retreat of the enemy, the defense of Washington or Baltimore, this amount of force should be there, and they should be held in readiness to march, which fact I will not be able to know until I put them on the road. I will send the best officers I have to command this body. I desire that instructions may be given Generals Heintzelman and Schenck to direct their commands to obey promptly any orders they may receive from me.
Last evening the colonel commanding at Poolesville responded to his orders to march that he did not belong to my command, but would refer his orders to General Heintzelman. Such delays may bring us reverses.     When these instructions are given, I shall not be necessitated to repeat orders to any part of my command to march on the enemy.
      Allow me to suggest that the new troops arriving in Baltimore and Washington be at once put in the defenses, and the old ones, excepting those serving with the artillery, be put in marching condition. If this should be done quickly, I think that we may anticipate glorious results from the recent movement of the enemy, whether he should determine to advance or retreat.
    I request that my orders be sent me to-day, for outside of the Army of the Potomac I don't know whether I am standing on my head or feet.
    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Pages 57-58.

Hooker had been informed directly by Lincoln he answered to Halleck.  Despite this, he still wanted to be in control of other forces in the Area outside the Army of the Potomac.  Like McClellan before him his focus strayed from the task at hand to questions of authority.  

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