Friday, September 05, 2008

McClellan and Pope

One of the myths of the Civil War is that McClellan dragged his retreat from the Peninsula and refused to help Pope During the 2nd Battle of Bull Run. There is no evidence to support this claim which is found in almost every popular book on the campaign. The usual quote is that McClellan "told Lincoln that Pope would have to get out the scrape himself". Here is the actual full quote from the ORR:

WASHINGTON, August 29, 1862—2.30 p. m.
What news from direction of Manassas Junction? What generally?
Major-General MCCLELLAN.

McClellan replied as follows:

August 29, 1862—2.45 p. m.

The last news I received from the direction of Manassas was from stragglers, to the effect that the enemy were evacuating Centreville and retiring toward Thoroughfare Gap. This by no means reliable.

I am clear that one of two courses should be adopted: First, to concentrate all our available forces to open communications with Pope; Second, to leave Pope to get out of his scrape, and at once use all our means to make the capital perfectly safe.

No middle ground will now answer. Tell me what you wish me to do, and I will do all in my power to accomplish it. I wish to know what my orders and authority are. I ask for nothing, but will obey whatever orders you give. I only ask a prompt decision, that I may at once give the necessary orders. It will not do to delay longer.

Lincoln Replied:

WASHINGTON, August 29, 1862—4.10 p. m.
Yours of to-day just received. I think your first alternative, to wit, “to concen-
trate all our available forces to open communication with Pope,” is the right one, but
I wish not to control. That I now leave to General Halleck, aided by your counsels.
Major-General MCCLELLAN.

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