To George B. McClellan

Washington City, D.C.
Major Gen. McClellan May 31, 1862. 10.20 P.M.

A circle whose circumference shall pass through Harper’s Ferry, Front-Royal, and Strasburg, and whose center shall be a little North East of Winchester, almost certainly has within it this morning, the forces of Jackson, Ewell, and Edward Johnson. Quite certainly they were within it two days ago. Some part of these forces attacked Harper’s Ferry at dark last evening, and are still in sight this morning. Shields—with McDowell’s advance. re-took Front Royal at 11 A.M. yesterday, with a dozen of our own prisoners taken there a week ago, one hundred and fifty of the enemy, two locomotives and eleven cars, some other property and stores, and saved the bridge. Fremont, from the direction of Moorefield, promises to be at or near Strasburg at 5 P.M. to-day. Banks, at Williamsport, with his old force, and his new force at Harpers Ferry, is directed to co-operate. Shields, at Front-Royal, reports a rumor of still an additional force of the enemy, supposed to be Anderson’s, having entered the valley of Virginia. This last may or may not be true. Corinth is certainly in the hands of Gen. Halleck. A. LINCOLN


To George A. McCall

Washington, May 31, 1862—3.35.

Brigadier-General McCall, Commanding, Fredericksburg:

Are you about to withdraw from Fredericksburg; and, if so, why, and by whose orders? A. LINCOLN.

McCall replied as follows: “Despatch received I am not about to withdraw from Fredericksburg but I have received the following orders from Genl McDowell

‘Draw in your force moving them on the left bank of the River—holding yourself on the defensive Keeping Fredericksburg Guard the bridges to Aquia Creek by completing the Block Houses near them’

“I have in obedience to these orders withdrawn all my forces except a sufficient guard for the city police and the out pickets from the right bank of the River and have made such disposition of my command as seems to me best calculated to resist an attack from any quarter I have no idea of withdrawing from this position without orders I have scouts out in the direction of Spotsylvania Court House and the forks of the Rappahannock and will report the result of their observations on their return” . To this Stanton replied that “The President directs me to say to you that there can be nothing to justify a panic at Fredericksburg. He expects you to maintain your position there as becomes a soldier and a general.”

To Irvin McDowell

Major Gen. McDowell                Washington City, D.C.
Rectortown                                  May 30, 1862. 12.40. [P.M.]

Your despatch of to-day received, and is satisfactory. Fremont has nominally twenty-two thousand, really about seventeen thousand. Blencker’s Division is part of it. I have a despatch from Fremont this morning, not telling me where he is, but he says “Scouts and men from Winchester represent Jacksons force variously at thirty to sixty thousand. With him Gen. Ewell and Longstreet.” The high figures erroneous of course. Do you not know where Longstreet is?

Corinth is evacuated and occupied by us.  A. LINCOLN.

To John C. Fremont

Maj. Gen. Fremont        Washington City. D. C.
Moorefield                      May 30. 1862 91/2 P. M.

I send you a despatch just received from Gen. Saxton at Harper’s Ferry.

(Here insert it at length)

It seems the game is before you. Have sent a copy to Gen. McDowell. A. LINCOLN

The telegram from General Saxton which was inserted in this message and also in the message to McDowell dispatched at 9:30 P.M., reads as follows: “The rebels are in line of battle in front of our lines. They have nine pieces of artillery in position and cavalry. I shelled the woods in which they were, and they in return threw a large number of shells into the lines and tents from which I moved last night to take up a stronger position. I expect a great deal from the battery on the mountain, having here 9-inch Dahlgren’s bearing directly on the enemy’s approaches. The enemy appeared this morning, and then retired with the intention of driving us out. I shall act on the defensive, as my position is a strong one. In a skirmish which took place this afternoon I lost 1 horse; the enemy lost 2 men killed and some wounded.” . Fremont replied to Lincoln’s telegram, “Your telegram of thirty first [thirtieth] received. Main column at this place Roads heavy and weather terrible Heavy storm of rain most of yesterday and all last night Our cavalry and scouts have covered the roads ten to fifteen miles ahead The enemy’s cavalry and ours now in sight of each other on the Strasburg road. Engagement expected today The army is pushing forward and I intend to carry out operations proposed”

To John C. Fremont

Major Gen. Fremont           Washington City, D. C.
Moorefield, Va.                    May 30, 1862 21/2 P. M.

Yours saying you will reach Strasburg, or vicinity, at five PM, saturday, has been received and sent to Gen. McDowell, & he directed to act in view of it. You must be up to time you promise if possible. Corinth was evacuated last night and in occupied by our troops to-day—the enemy gone South to Okalona [sic] on the Railroad to Mobile. A. LINCOLN

Fremont’s despatch of May 29, reads in part as follows: “My command is not yet in marching order. It has been necessary to halt to-day to bring up parts of regiments and to receive stragglers, hundreds of whom from Blenker’s division strewed the roads. You can conceive the condition of the command from the fact that the medical director this morning protested against its farther advance without allowing one day’s rest. . . . I could not venture to proceed with it in disorder, and cannot with safety undertake to be at the point you mention earlier than by 5 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. At that hour I will be at or near it, according to position of the enemy. . . . Will be on the road early to-morrow. . . and couriers will be provided to bring on your answer, which please send to-night, and let me know if General McDowell’s force can be so controlled as to make this combination.”

To John C. Fremont

Maj. Gen. Fremont          Washington City, D. C.
Moorefield, Va.                May 30. 1862 111/2 A. M.

Yours of this morning from Moorefield, just received. There can not be more than twenty, probably not more than fifteen thousand of the enemy, at or about Winchester. Where is your force? It ought this minute to be near Strasburg. Answer at once.


Fremont’s telegram received at 11:30 A. M. reads as follows: “Scouts and men from Winchester represent Jackson’s force variously at 30,000 to 60,000. With him Generals Ewell and [James] Longstreet.”

To Nathaniel P. Banks

Majr. Gen. Banks               Washington City, D. C.
Williamsport, Md.              May 30, 1862 101/4 A. M.

If the enemy, in force, is in or about Martinsburg, Charlestown, and Winchester, or any or all of them, he may come in collision with Fremont; in which case I am anxious that your force, with you, and at Harper’s Ferry, should so operate as to assist Fremont, if possible. The same, if the enemy should engage McDowell. This was the meaning of my despatch yesterday. A. LINCOLN

Banks’ reply, received at 4:45 P. M., reads as follows: “Your communication received. Have sent part of our force to Antietam Ford, near Shepherdstown. Will do all we can to harass the enemy’s rear. No indication of enemy this side of Martinsburg, and we believe no considerable force there.”