Today in History:

62 Series I Volume V- Serial 5 - West Virginia

Page 62 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

on General Wadsworth's application, to report to him for special service, was unequipped with either guns or horses.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Inspector of Artillery, U. S. Army.

Major-General MCCLELLAN, U. S. Army.

It is true that Blenker's division, which is included in the force enumerated by me, was under orders to re-enforce General Fremont, but the following dispatch from the Secretary of War, dated March 31, 1862, will show that I was authorized to detain him at Strasburg until matters assumed a definite form in that region, before proceeding to his ultimate destination; in other words, until Jackson was disposed of. And had he been detained there, instead of moving on to Harper's Ferry and Franklin, under other orders, it is probable that General Banks would have defeated Jackson, instead of being himself obliged subsequently to retreat to Williamsport:


Washington, D. C., March 31, 1862.

The order in respect to Blenker is not designed to hinder or delay the movement of Richardson or any other force. He can remain wherever you desire him as long as required for your movements and in any position you desire. The order is simply to place him in position for re-enforcing Fremont as soon as your dispositions will permit, and he may go to Harper's Ferry by such route and at such time as you shall direct. State your own wishes as to the movement, when and how it shall be made.


Secretary of War.

Major-General MCCLELLAN.

Without including General Blenker's division, there were left 67,428 men and eighty-five pieces of light artillery, which, under existing circumstances, I deemed more than adequate to insure the perfect security of Washington against any force the enemy could bring against it, for the following reasons:

The light troops I had thrown forward under General Stoneman in pursuit of the rebel army, after the evacuation of Manassas and Centreville, had driven their rear guard across Cedar Run, and subsequent expeditions form Sumner's corps had forced them beyond the Rappahannock. They had destroyed all the railroad bridges behind them, thereby indicating that they did not intend to return over that route. Indeed, if they had attempted such a movement, their progress must have been slow and difficult, as it would have involved thee reconstruction of the bridges; and if my orders for keeping numerous cavalry patrols well out to the front, to give timely notice of any approach of the enemy, had been strictly enforced (and I left seven regiments of cavalry for this express purpose), they could not by any possibility have reached Washington before there would have been ample time to concentrate the entire forces left for its defense, as well as those at Baltimore, at any necessary point. .

It was clear to my mind, as I reiterated to the authorities, that the movement of the Army of the Potomac would have the effect to draw off the hostile army from Manassas to the defense of their capital, and thus free Washington from menace. This opinion was confirmed the moment the movement commenced, or rather as soon as the enemy became aware of our intentions, for with the exception of Jackson's force of some 15,000, which his instructions show to have been intended to operate in such a way as to prevent McDowell's corps from being sent to re-enforce me, no rebel force of any magnitude made its appearance in front of Washington during the progress of our operations on.

Page 62 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.