Monday, July 8, 2013

July 10, 1863 (Saturday): "Beware of Partial Combat"

Pursuit of Lee's Army (Forbes)

July 10, 1863-1 p. m.

(Received 3. 10 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    The information received to-day indicates that the enemy occupy positions extending from the Potomac, near Falling Waters, through Downsville to Funkstown, and to the northeast of Hagerstown, Ewell's corps being to the northeast of Hagerstown, Longstreet at Funkstown, and A. P. Hill on their right. These positions they are said to be intrenching. I am advancing on a line perpendicular to the line from Hagerstown to Williamsport, and the army will this evening occupy a position extending from the Boonsborough and Hagerstown road, at a point 1 mile beyond Beaver Creek, to Bakersville, near the Potomac. Our cavalry advanced this morning, drove in the enemy's cavalry on the Boonsborough pike to within a mile of Funkstown, when the enemy displayed a large force, and opened a fire from heavy guns, 20-pounders. I shall advance cautiously on the same line to-morrow until I can develop more fully the enemy's force and position, upon which my future operations will depend. General Smith is still at Waynesborough. A dispatch was received from him at that place this morning. Instructions similar to those of yesterday were sent to him.

     GEO. G. MEADE,
     Major-General, Commanding.

July 10, 1863-9 p. m.
Major-General MEADE,
Army of the Potomac:
    I think it will be best for you to postpone a general battle till you can concentrate all your forces and get up your reserves and re-enforcements. I will push on the troops as fast as they arrive. It would be well to have staff officers at the Monocacy, to direct the troops arriving where to go, and to see that they are properly fitted out. They should join you by forced marches. Beware of partial combats. Bring up and hurl upon the enemy all your forces, good and bad.

    H. W. HALLECK.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Page 89.

The story of Gettysburg is so entrenched in our memory the retreat from there is a much smaller part of the narrative than is warranted.  Other than the excellent "Retreat from Gettysburg" by Kent Masterson Brown, little has been written.  But at the time it was not only possible, but anticipated by both sides, there would be a battle on the road south.  Lee was entrenching, waiting for the Potomac to fall, Meade cautiously pursuing.  While Lincoln continued to press for a battle, Halleck advised against partial combat.

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