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Official Records of the Rebellion

Official Records of the Rebellion

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No 1: Report of Maj. McClellan, U. S. Army, commanding Army of the Potomac, dated August 4 1863


On the 18th and 19th our march was continued to Williamsburg and Yorktown, and on the 20th the remainder of the army was ready to embark at Yorktown, Fort Monroe, and Newport News. The movement of the main body of the army on this march was covered by General Pleasonton with his cavalry and horse artillery. That officer remained at Haxall’s until the army had passed Charles City Court-House, when he gradually fell back, picking up the stragglers as he proceeded, and crossed the bridge over the Chickahominy after the main body had marched toward Williamsburg. His troops were the last to cross the bridge, and he deserves great credit for the manner in which he performed this duty. General Averell did a similar service, in the same satisfactory way, in covering the march of the Third Corps.

As the campaign on the Peninsula terminated here, I cannot close this part of my report without giving an expression of my sincere thanks and gratitude to the officers and men whom 1 had the honor to command.

From the commencement to the termination of this most arduous campaign the Army of the Potomac always evinced the most perfect subordination, zeal, and alacrity in the performance of all the duties required of it. The amount of severe labor accomplished by this army in the construction of intrenchments, roads, bridges, &c., was enormous; yet all the work was performed with the most gratifying cheerfulness and devotion to the interests of the service. During the campaign ten severely-contested and sanguinary battles had been fought, besides numerous smaller engagements, in which the troops exhibited the most determined enthusiasm and bravery. They submitted to exposure, sickness, and even death without a murmur. Indeed, they had become veterans in their country’s cause, and richly deserved the warm commendation of the Government.

It was in view of these facts that this seemed to me an appropriate occasion for the General-in-Chief to give in general orders some appreciative expression of the services of the army while upon the Peninsula. Accordingly on the 18th I sent him the following dispatch:

August 15, 1862—11 p. m.

Please say a kind word to my army, that I can repeat to them in general orders, in regard to their conduct at Yorktown, Williamsburg, West Point, Hanover [p.92] Court- House, and on the Chickahominy, as well as in regard to the Seven Days and therecent retreat. No one has ever said anything to cheer them but myself. Say nothing about me. Merely give my men and officers credit for what they have done. It will do you much good, and will strengthen you much with them if you issue a handsome order to them in regard to what they have accomplished. They deserve it.

Major- General.

Major-General HALLECK, Washington, D. C.

As no reply was received to this communication, and no order was issued by the General-in-Chief; I conclude that suggestion did not meet with his approbation.

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.91-92

web page Rickard, J (20 June 2006)

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