Today in History:

5 Series I Volume XI-III Serial 14 - Peninsular Campaign Part III


there indicated, and I felt it my duty to him and to the country to communicate them frankly. It is therefore with great pain that I have learned from you this morning that my views do not meet with the approbation of the Lieutenant-General, and that my letter is unfavorably regarded by him.

The command with which I am intrusted was not sought by me, and has only been accepted from an earnest and humble desire to serve my country in the moment of the most extreme peril With these views I am willing to do and suffer whatever may be required for that service. Nothing could be further from my wishes than to seek any command or urge any measures not required for the exigency of the occasion, and, above all, I would abstain from any conduct that could give offense to General Scott or embarrass the President or any department of the Government. Influenced by these considerations, I yield to your request and withdraw the letter referred to.

The Government and my superior officer being apprised of what I consider to be necessary and proper for the defense of the national capital, I shall strive faithfully and zealously to employ the means that may be placed in my power for that purpose, dismissing every personal feeling or consideration, and praying only the blessing of Divine Providence on my efforts.

I will only add that as you requested my authority to withdraw the letter, that authority is hereby given, with the most profound assurance for General Scott and yourself.*

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Washington, August 12, 1861.

The Honorable the SECRETARY OF WAR:

SIR: On the 10th instant I was kindly requested by the President to withdraw my letter to you of the 9th, in reply to one I had received from Major-General McClellan of the day before; the President, at the same time, showing me a letter to him from General McClellan, in which, at the instance of the President, he offered to withdraw the original letter on which I had animadverted.

While the President was yet with me on that occasion a servant handed me a letter, which proved to be an unauthenticated copy, under a blank cover, of the same letter from General McC. to the President. This slight was not without its influence on my mind.

The President's visit, however, was for the patriotic purpose of healing differences, and so much did I honor his motive, that I deemed it due to him to hold his proposition under consideration for some little time.

I deeply regret that, notwithstanding my respect for the opinions and wishes of the President, I cannot withdraw the letter in question, for these reasons:

1. The original offense given to me by Major-General McClellan (see his letter of the 8th instant) seems to have been the result of deliberation between him and some of the members of the Cabinet, by whom all the greater war questions are to be settled, without resort to or consultation with me, the nominal General-in Chief of the Army. In


*See reference to this letter in Series I, Vol. V, p. 9.