Official Records of the Rebellion

Official Records of the Rebellion


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[p.44]

On the 2d of June I sent the following dispatch:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 2, 1862—10.30 a. m.

Our left is everywhere advanced considerably beyond the positions it occupied before the battle. I am in strong hopes that the Chickahominy will fall sufficiently to enable me to cross the right. We have had a terrible time with our communications— bridges and causeways, built with great care, having been washed away by the sudden freshets, leaving us almost cut off from communication. All that human labor can do is being done to accomplish our purpose.

Please regard the portion of this relating to condition of Chickahominy as confidential, as it would be serious if the enemy were aware of it. I do not yet know our loss; it has been very heavy on both sides, as the fighting was desperate. Our victory complete. I expect still more fighting before we reach Richmond.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major- General.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

On the same day I received the following from the Secretary of War:

WASHINGTON, June 2, 1862.

Your telegram has been received, and we are greatly rejoiced at your success—not only in itself; but because of the dauntless spirit and courage it displays in your troops. You have received, of course, the order made yesterday in respect to Fortress Monroe. The object was to place at your command the disposable force of that department. The indications are that Fremont or McDowell will fight Jackson to-day, and as soon as he is disposed of another large body of troops will be at your service.

The intelligence from Halleck shows that the rebels are fleeing, and pursued in force, from Corinth. All interest now centers in your operations, and full confidence is entertained of your brilliant and glorious success.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

Major-General MCCLELLAN.

On the 3d I received the following from the President:

WASHINGTON, June 3, 1862.

With these continuous rains I am very anxious about the Chickahominy—so close in your rear and crossing your line of communication. Please look to it.

A. LINCOLN,
President.

Major-General McCLELLAN.

[p.45]

To which I replied as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 3, 1862.

Your dispatch of 5 p. m. just received. As the Chickahominy has been almost the only obstacle in my way for several days Your Excellency may rest assured that it has not been overlooked. Every effort has been made, and will continue to be, to perfect the communications across it. Nothing of importance, except that it is again raining.

GEO. McCLELLAN,
Major—General, Commanding.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President, Washington.

My views of the condition of our army on the 4th are explained in the following dispatch to the President:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 4, 1862.

Terrible rain-storm during the night and morning; not yet cleared off. Chickahominy flooded; bridges in bad condition. Are still hard at work at them. I have taken every possible step to insure the security of the corps on the right bank, but I cannot re-enforce them here until my bridges are all safe, as my force is too small to insure my right and rear, should the enemy attack in that direction, as they may probably attempt. I have to be very cautious now. Our loss in the late battle will probably exceed 5,000. I have not yet full returns. On account of the effect it might have on our own men and the enemy I request that you will regard this information as confidential for a few days. I am satisfied that the loss of the enemy was very considerably greater; they were terribly punished. I mention these facts now merely to show you that the Army of the Potomac has had serious work, and that no child’s play is before it.

You must make your calculations on the supposition that I have been correct from the beginning in asserting that the serious opposition was to be made here.

GEO. MCCLELLAN,
Major- General, Commanding.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President.

And in the following to the Secretary of War on the same day:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 4, 1862.

Please inform me at once what re-enforcements, if any, I can count upon having at Fortress Monroe or White House within the next three days, and when each regiment may be expected to arrive. It is of the utmost importance that I should know this immediately. The losses in the battle of the 31st and 1st will amount to 7,000. Regard this as confidential for the present.

If I can have five new regiments for Fort Monroe and its dependencies I can draw three more old regiments from there safely. I can well dispose of four more raw regiments on my communications. I can well dispose of from fifteen to twenty well- drilled regiments among the old brigades in bringing them up to their original effective strength. Recruits are especially necessary for the regular and volunteer batteries of artillery as well as for the regular and volunteer regiments of infantry. After the losses in our last battle I trust that I will no longer be regarded as an alarmist. I believe we have at least one more desperate battle to fight.

* This dispatch as received, continues as follows:

“Our loss has been greater than I had first supposed. The publication of this at this particular time might have an unfavorable effect upon the spirits of our army and give confidence to the enemy, although they undoubtedly suffered much more than we did. I therefore submit it to your judgment whether it will be policy to make it public until after the next battle.”

GEO. McCLELLAN,
Major- General, Commanding.

Hon. STANTON, Secretary of War.

Also in my dispatch to the Secretary of War on the 5th:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
New Bridge, June 5, 1862.

Rained most of the night. Has now ceased, but is not clear. The river is still very high and troublesome. Enemy opened with several batteries on our bridges [p.46] near here this morning. Our batteries seem to have pretty much silenced them, though some firing still kept up. The rain forces us to remain in statu quo. With great difficulty a division of infantry has been crossed this morning to support the troops on the other side should the enemy renew attack. I felt obliged to do this, although it leaves us rather weak here.

GEO. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

Hon. STANTON, Secretary of War.

On the 5th the Secretary telegraphed me as follows:

WASHINGTON, June 5, 1862—8.30 p. m.

I will send you five new regiments as fast as transportation can take them; the first to start to-morrow from Baltimore. I intend sending you a part of McDowell’s force as soon as it can return from its trip to Front Royal; probably as many as you want. The order to ship the new regiments to Fort Monroe has already been given. I suppose that they may be sent directly to the fort. Please advise me if this be as you desire.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

Major-General MCCLELLAN.

On the 7th of June I telegraphed as follows:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
June 7, 1862—4.40 p. m.

In reply to your dispatch of 2 p. to-day I have the honor to state that the Chickahominy River has risen so as to flood the entire bottoms to the depth of 3 or 4 feet. I am pushing forward the bridges in spite of this, and the men are working night and day up to their waists in water to complete them. The whole face of the country is a perfect bog, entirely impassable for artillery, or even cavalry, except directly in the narrow roads, which renders any general movement either of this or the rebel army entirely out of the question until we have more favorable weather.

I am glad to learn that you are pressing forward re-enforcements so vigorously. I shall be in perfect readiness to move forward and take Richmond the moment McCall reaches here and the ground will admit the passage of artillery. I have advanced my pickets about a mile to-day, driving off the rebel pickets and securing a very advantageous position.

The rebels have several batteries established commanding the débouchés from two of our bridges and fire upon our working parties continually, but as yet they have killed but very few of our men.

GEO. MCCLELLAN,
Major-General, Commanding.

Hon. STANTON, Secretary of War.

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.44-46

web page Rickard, J (20 June 2006)