Lincoln then continues to compare the two armies in terms of their respective resources, strategic advantage, location, and capabilities in the next paragraph:.
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As I understand, you telegraph Gen. But the enemy does now subsist his army at Winchester at a distance nearly twice as great from railroad transportation as you would have to do without the railroad last named. He now wagons from Culpepper C. He is certainly not more than half as well provided with wagons as you are.
The last sentence refers to the fact that it was already the middle of October and winter would soon be setting in. Halleck to the Secretary of War Concerning Gen. Yet, McClellan stayed put in Antietam for most of October, wasting precious time. Lincoln was also reminding McClellan in this paragraph that that time was of the essence in getting to Richmond before the enemy did. In fact, it was not until October 27, , that McClellan finally started to cross the Potomac.
While this action turned out to be of no military consequence, it no doubt made the Union army look weak and impotent. Change positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break your communication with Richmond within the next twentyfour hours? You dread his going into Pennsylvania.
But if he does so in full force, he gives up his communications to you absolutely, and you have nothing to do but to follow, and ruin him; if he does so with less than full force, fall upon, and beat what is left behind all the easier.
Lincoln and McClellan at War
Lincoln then points out that McClellan is closer to Richmond that the enemy and could get there before the enemy. He also describes the advantage that the Union army has in terms of the route to Richmond. Exclusive of the water line, you are now nearer Richmond than the enemy is by the route that you can, and he must take. Why can you not reach there before him, unless you admit that he is more than your equal on a march.
His route is the arc of a circle, while yours is the chord. The roads are as good on yours as on his. You know I desired, but did not order, you to cross the Potomac below, instead of above the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge. If he should move Northward I would follow him closely, holding his communications.
George B. McClellan (1826–1885)
If he should prevent our seizing his communications, and move towards Richmond, I would press closely to him, fight him if a favorable opportunity should present, and, at least, try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. If he make a stand at Winchester, moving neither North or South, I would fight him there, on the idea that if we can not beat him when he bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when we bear the wastage of going to him. Lincoln continues in this paragraph to note the advantage of making the enemy come to fight the Union army away from Richmond.
He also points out the difficulty of defeating the enemy once it is entrenched in Richmond. To this point, he states:. In coming to us, he tenders us an advantage which we should not waive. We should not so operate as to merely drive him away. As we must beat him somewhere, or fail finally, we can do it, if at all, easier near to us, than far away. If we can not beat the enemy where he now is, we never can, he again being within the entrenchments of Richmond Lincoln a.
George B. McClellan | American Battlefield Trust
In my opinion, the following last paragraph of this letter shows Lincoln at his best as a military strategist. Although hesitant at the beginning of the war to overrule his generals, knowing he was unschooled in military strategy, by October of , Lincoln had become skilled and knowledgeable in military tactics and principles of warfare.
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Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Vol. The Christian Science Monitor, December 2, The Tao of Abraham Lincoln. By Manila Bulletin, July 9, Lincoln, Abraham The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. It was the largest military assemblage up to that time in North America. A: Among the 20, spectators to witness the Grand Review was the poet and social activist Julia Ward Howe of Boston, Massachusetts, who was visiting the Washington area with her husband, Dr.
Samuel Gridley Howe.