To George B. McClellan

Washington City, D.C.
Major General McClellan May 24. 1862

I left Gen. McDowell’s camp at dark last evening. Shields’ command is there but is so worn that he can not move before Monday morning the (26th.) twenty sixth. We have so thinned our line to get troops for other places that it was broken yesterday at Front-Royal with a probable loss to us of a Regiment infantry, two companies of cavalry, putting Banks in some peril. The enemies forces under Gen. Andersonnow opposing Gen. McDowell’s advance have, as their line of supply and retreat, the Road to Richmond. If in conjunction with McDowell’s movement against Anderson you could send a force from your right to cut off the enemies supplies from Richmond, preserve the Rail Road bridges across the two forks of the Pamunkey and intercept the enemies retreat you will prevent the army now opposed to you from receiving an accession of numbers of nearly fifteen thousand men—and if you succeed in saving the bridges you will [se]cure a line of Rail Road for supplies in addition to the one you now have. Can you not do this almost as well as not, while you are building the Chicahomany bridges? McDowell and Shields both say they can, and positively will, move monday morning. I wish you to move cautiously and safely. You will have command of Gen. McDowell after he joins you, precisely as you indicate in your long despatch to me of the twentyfirst. A. LINCOLN

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