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. . . .”