President’s General War Order No. 3

Executive Mansion
Washington, March 8, 1862.

Ordered, that no change of the base of operations of the Army of the Potomac shall be made without leaving in, and about Washington, such a force as, in the opinion of the General-in-chief, and the commanders of all the Army corps, shall leave said City entirely secure.

That not more than two Army corps, (about fifty thousand troops) of said Army of the Potomac, shall be moved en route for a new base of operations until the navigation of the Potomac, from Washington to the Chesapeake bay shall be freed from enemies batteries and other obstructions, or, until the President shall hereafter give express permission.

That any movement, as aforesaid, en route for a new base of operations, which may be ordered by the General-in-chief, & which may be intended to move upon the Chesapeake-bay, shall begin to move upon the bay as early as the 18th. day of March Inst.; and the General-in-chief shall be responsible that it so move as early as that day.

Ordered that the Army and Navy co-operate in an immediate effort to capture the enemies batteries upon the Potomac between Washington and the Chesapeake-bay. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

On April 2, Stanton submitted to the adjutant general and to General Ethan A. Hitchcock, who had been made a major general on February 10, with advisory duties in the War Department, the records of McClellan’s troop movements and directed that they determine whether the terms of Lincoln’s order to keep Washington “entirely secure” had been complied with. They reported on the same day that the order had not been obeyed.

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