To George B. McClellan

Washington City, D.C.
Major Gen. McClellan June 20. 1862

We have, this morning, sent you a despatch of Gen. Sigel corroborative of the proposition that Jackson is being re-inforced from Richmond. This may be reality, and yet may only be contrivance for deception; and to determine which, is perplexing. If we knew it were not true, we could send you some more force, but as the case stands, we do not think we safely can. Still we will watch the signs, and do so if possible.

In regard to a contemplated execution of Captains Sprigg and Triplett, the government here has no information whatever, but will inquire and advise you. A. LINCOLN

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To George B. McClellan

Washington City, D. C.
Major Genl. McClellan June 19. 1862

Yours of last night just received, and for which I thank you. If large re-inforcements are going from Richmond to Jackson, it proves one of two things, either that they are very strong at Richmond, or do not mean to defend the place desperately.

On reflection, I do not see how re-inforcements from Richmond to Jackson could be in Gordon’sville as reported by the Frenchman. It induces a doubt whether the Frenchman & your deserters have not all been sent to deceive. A. LINCOLN

To George B. McClellan

“Cypher” Washington, D. C.,
Major General McC[lellan] June 18. 1862.

Yours of to-day making it probable that Jackson has been reinforced by about ten thousand from Richmond, is corroborated by a despatch from Gen. Kingat Frederick’sburg, saying a Frenchman just arrived from Richmond by way of Gordon’sville, met ten to fifteen thousand passing through the latter place to join Jackson.

If this is true, it is as good as a reinforcement to you of an equal force. I could better dispose of things if I could know about what day you can attack Richmond, and would be glad to be informed, if you think you can inform me with safety. A. LINCOLN

To Carl Schurz

Brigadier General Schurz.              Washington City, D.C.
Mount Jackson, Va.                         June 16, 1862 [12:30 P. M.]

Your long letter is received. The information you give is valuable. You say it is fortunate that Fremont did not intercept Jackson—that Jackson had the superior force, and would have over-whelmed him. If this is so, how happened it that Fremont fairly fought and worsted him on the 8th.? Or, is the account that he did fight and worst him, false, and fabricated?

Both Gen. Fremont and you speak of Jackson having beaten Shields. By our accounts, he did not beat Shields. He had no engagement with Shields. He did meet, and drive back with disaster, about two thousand of Shields’ advance, till they were met by an additional Brigade of Shields, when Jackson himself turned and retreated. Shields himself, and more than half his force, were not nearer than twenty miles of any of it.  A. LINCOLN

Schurz’s seven-page letter written from Fremont’s headquarters on June 12 reads in part as follows: “When I took leave of you, you authorized me to send you a confidential report about the condition of things in this Department. . . . I have already seen and heard enough to give a reliable opinion. . . . It is a fact. . . that, when you ordered Gen. Fremont to march from Franklin to Harrisonburg, it was absolutely impossible to carry out the order. The army was in a starving condition and literally unable to fight. . . . it is undoubtedly a very fortunate circumstance that Gen. Fremont did not succeed in placing himself across Jacksons line of retreat; for Jacksons force was so much superior (all the Generals. . . put at 25,000 as the very lowest) that he would in all probability have been beaten. . . .” 

Schurz replied to Lincoln’s questions in a telegram received at 5:40 P.M. on June 16, as follows: “Your Despatch received About the correctness of Genl Fremonts report there can be no question When he attacked Jackson at Cross Keyes the cooperation of Genl Shields was expected Jackson being immediately between them when Shields withdrew and Jackson was largely reinforced. The conditions were no longer the same and it was in reference to this new state of things that my letter was written. As to Shields I wrote on the information I had More by letter”. In a four-page letter written on the same day Schurz explained in detail Fremont’s strategy and need for withdrawal

To John C. Fremont

“Cypher”
Major General Fremont              Washington City, D.C.
Mount Jackson, Va.                     June 16, 1862

Your despatch of yesterday reminding me of a supposed understanding that I would furnish you a corps of thirty five thousand men, and asking of me “the fulfillment of this understanding” is received. I am ready to come to a fair settlement of accounts with you on the fulfillment of understandings.

Early in March last, when I assigned you to the command of the Mountain Department, I did tell you I would give you all the force I could, and that I hoped to make it reach thirty five thousand. You, at the same time told me that, within a reasonable time, you would seize the Railroad at, or East of, Knoxville, Tenn. if you could. There was then in the Department a force supposed to be twentyfive thousand—the exact number as well known to you as to me. After looking about two or three days you called and distinctly told me that if I would add the Blecker [Blenker] Division to the force already in the Department, you would undertake the job. The Blecker [Blenker] division contained ten thousand; and at the expense of great dissatisfaction to Gen. McClellan, I took it from his army, and gave it to you. My promise was litterally fulfilled. I had given you all I could, and I had given you very nearly if not quite thirtyfive thousand.

Now for yours. On the 23rd. of May, largely over two months afterwards, you were at Franklin Va, not within three hundred miles of Knoxville, nor within eighty miles of any part of the Railroad East of it—and not moving forward, but telegraphing here that you could not move for lack of everything. Now, do not misunderstand me. I do not say you have not done all you could. I presume you met unexpected difficulties; and I beg you to believe that as surely as you have done your best, so have I. I have not the power now to fill up your corps to thirtyfive thousand. I am not demanding of you to do the work of thirtyfive thousand. I am only asking of you to stand cautiously on the defensive, get your force in order, and give such protection as you can to the valley of the Shenandoah, and to Western Virginia. Have you received the orders? and will you act upon them?

A. LINCOLN.

Fremont’s telegram received at 3 P. M. on June 15, reminded Lincoln that “when assigned to this command I was informed that I should have a corps of thirty five thousand men I now ask from the President the fulfillment of this understanding. . . .”

Fremont telegraphed in reply the same day that he had received the orders and “as a matter of course I will act upon them as I am now doing.”  Upon reports arriving at the War Department which indicated that Fremont understood his orders to require him to remain at Mount Jackson regardless of circumstances, Stanton at Lincoln’s direction telegraphed Fremont on June 17 that the president “does wish you to hold your position at Mount Jackson if you can safely do so; but if pressed beyond your strength that you will then fall back toward Strasburg for support from General Banks. General Banks is now here, and will see you immediately upon his return to his command.”

To George B. McClellan

War Department
Washington City, D. C.
Major General McClellan June 15, 1862

My dear Sir: The night between your two late battles of Saturday and Sunday, I went earnestly to work to find a way of putting Gen. Wool’s force under your control without wounding any one’s feelings.But after all, Gen. Dix was a little hurt at being taken from an independent command and put in a dependent one.  I could not help this without giving up the principal object of the move. So soon as you can, (which I do not expect is yet,) I wish you to give me the benefit of your suggestions as to how an independent command can be given him without detriment.

The Secretary of War has turned over to me your despatch about sending McDowell to you by water, instead of by land. I now fear he can not get to you either way in time. Shields’ Division has got so terribly out of shape, out at elbows, and out at toes, that it will require a long time to get it in again. I expect to see McDowell within a day or two, when I will again talk with him about the mode of moving.

McCall’s Division has nearly or quite reached you by now. This, with what you get from Gen. Wool’s old command, and the new regiments sent you, must give you an increase since the late battles of over twenty thousand. Doubtless the battles and other causes have decreased you half as much in the same time; but then the enemy have lost as many in the same way.

I believe I would come and see you, were it not that I fear my presence might divert you and the army from more important matters. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

To John C. Fremont

War Department,
Washington City, D.C.,
Major-General Fremont: June 15, 1862.

My Dear Sir: Your letter of the 12th, by Colonel Zagonyi, is just received. In answer to the principal part of it I repeat the substance of an order of the 8th and one or two telegraphic despatches sent you since.

We have no indefinite power of sending re-enforcements; so that we are compelled rather to consider the proper disposal of the forces we have than of those we could wish to have. We may be able to send you some dribs by degrees, but I do not believe we can do more. As you alone beat Jackson last Sunday I argue that you are stronger than he is to-day, unless he has been re-enforced; and that he cannot have been materially re-enforced, because such re-enforcement could only have come from Richmond, and he is much more likely to go to Richmond than Richmond is to come to him. Neither is very likely. I think Jackson’s game—his assigned work—now is to magnify the accounts of his numbers and reports of his movements, and thus by constant alarms keep three or four times as many of our troops away from Richmond as his own force amounts to. Thus he helps his friends at Richmond three or four times as much as if he were there. Our game is not to allow this. Accordingly, by the order of the 8th, I directed you to halt at Harrisonburg, rest your force, and get it well in hand, the objects being to guard against Jackson’s returning by the same route to the Upper Potomac, over which you have just driven him out, and at the same time give some protection against a raid into West Virginia. Already I have given you discretion to occupy Mount Jackson instead, if, on full consideration, you think best. I do not believe Jackson will attack you, but certainly he cannot attack you by surprise; and if he comes upon you in superior force you have but to notify us, fall back cautiously, and Banks will join you in due time. But while we know not whether Jackson will move at all, or by what route, we cannot safely put you and Banks both on the Strasburg line, and leave no force on the Front Royal line, the very line upon which he prosecuted his late raid. The true policy is to place one of you on one line and the other on the other, in such positions that you can unite on either once you actually find Jackson moving upon it. And this is precisely what we are doing. This protects that part of our frontier, so to speak, and liberates McDowell to go to the assistance of McClellan. I have arranged this, and am very unwilling to have it deranged. While you have only asked for Sigel I have spoken only of Banks, and this because Sigel’s force is now the principal part of Banks’s force.

About transferring General Schenck’s command, the purchase of supplies, and the promotion and appointment of officers mentioned in your letter, I will consult with the Secretary of War to-morrow. Yours, truly, A. LINCOLN.

Fremont’s letter delivered by his aide-de-camp Colonel Charles Zagonyi, read as follows: “The situation here gives me some anxiety and I wish therefore to trouble you with a few lines. We have been operating against the enemy with a force greatly inferior to his. He has been still farther re-enforced and my men have been exhausted by the demand made upon them. . . . I have asked you by telegraph which I send forward this afternoon to direct General Sigel with his force immediately to report to me here. . . . In the battle at Cross Keys I do not think I had 10,000 men, the enemy according to all acounts. . . not less than 20,000. . . . I ought to have a moveable corps of not less than 30000 men. . . . I should also have the power. . . to order the proper officer to procure immediately and as they are required such supplies as are necessary. . . . I hope that you will find it agreeable to your views to give me what I ask & that you will be good enough to give me a reply as soon as you have considered the subject. . . . I have to ask that you will have the appointment of Col. Anselm Albert as Brig. Genl. confirmed as well as that of Brig Genl. Stahel. . . . I still continue to desire. . . that you will permit me to raise a cavalry regiment to be commanded by Col. Zagonyi whom I send to you with this letter. . . . The Secretary of War informed me that if there should be officers in this command with whom it was not agreeable to me to act they could be transferred. . . . I avail myself of this assurance to ask that Brig. General Schenck be transferred from my Dept. And it is just to him to say that this request is made on personal grounds and without any reference to his qualities as a soldier. . . .”