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Maj.-Gen. B. F. BUTLER,
U. S. Volunteers :

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 1862.

GENERAL: You are assigned to the command of the land forces destined to co-operate with the navy, in the attack upon New Orleans. You will use every means to keep your destination a profound secret, even from your staff officers, with the exception of your chief of staff, and Lieutenant Weitzel, of the engineers. The force at your disposal will consist of the first 13 regiments named in your memorandum handed to me in person, the 21st Indiana, 4th Wisconsin, and 6th Michigan, (old and good regiments from Baltimore.)

The 21st Indiana, 4th Wisconsin, and 6th Michigan, will await your orders at Fort Monroe.

Two companies of the 21st Indiana are well drilled as heavy artillery. The cavalry force already en route for Ship Island, will be sufficient for your purposes.

After full consultation with officers well acquainted with the country in which it is proposed to operate, I have arrived at the conclusion that (2) two light batteries fully equipped, and (1) one without horses, will be all that are necessary.

This will make your force about 14,400 infantry, 275 cavalry, 680 artillery; total, 15,255 men.

The commanding general of the Department of Key West is authorized to loan you, temporarily, 2 regiments; Fort Pickens can probably give you another, which will bring your force to nearly 18,000.

The object of your expedition is one of vital importance the capture of New Orleans. The route selected is up th Mississippi River, and the first obstacle to be encountered (perhaps the only one,) is in the resistance offered by Forts St. Philip and Jackson. It is expected that the navy can reduce these works; in that case, you will, after their capture, leave a sufficient garrison in them to render them perfectly secure;

and it is recommended, that on the upward passage, a few heavy guns, and some troops, be left at the Pilot Station, (at the forks of the river,) to cover a retreat in the event of a disaster. These troops and guns will, of course, be removed as soon as the forts are captured.

Should the navy fail to reduce the works, you will land your forces and siege train, and endeavor to breach the works, silence their fire, and carry them by assault.

The next resistance will be near the English Bend, where there are some earthen batteries; here it may be necessary for you to land your troops and co-operate with the naval attack, although it is more than probable that the navy, unassisted, can accomplish the result. If these works are taken, the city of New Orleans necessarily falls. In that event, it will proba bly be best to occupy Algiers with the mass of your troops, also, the eastern bank of the river above the city; it may be necessary to place some troops in the city to preserve order, but if there appears sufficient Union sentiment to control the city, it may be best for purposes of discipline, to keep your men out of the city.

After obtaining possession of New Orleans, it will be necessary to reduce all the works guarding its approaches from the east, and particularly to gain the Manchac Pass. Baton Rouge, Berwick Bay, and Fort Livingston, will next claim your attention.

A feint on Galveston may facilitate the objects we have in view. I need not call your attention to the necessity of gaining possession of all the rolling stock you can on the different railways, and of obtaining control of the roads themselves. The occupation of Baton Rouge by a combined naval and land force, should be accomplished as soon as possible after you have gained New Orleans. Then endeavor to open your communication with the northern column by the Mississippi, always bearing in mind the necessity of occupying Jackson, Mississippi, as soon as you can safely do so, either after, or before

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you have effected the junction. Allow nothing to divert you from obtaining full possession of all the approaches to New Orleans. When that object is accomplished to its fullest extent, it will be necessary to make a combined attack on Mobile, in order to gain possession of the harbor and works, as well as to control the railway terminus at the city.

In regard to this, I will send more detailed instructions as the operations of the northern column develop themselves.

I may briefly state that the general objects of the expedition are: First, the reduction of New Orleans and all its approaches: then Mobile and its defenses: then Pensacola, Galveston, &c. It is probable that by the time New Orleans is reduced it will be in the power of the government to reinforce the land forces sufficiently to accomplish all these objects: in the meantime you will please give all the assistance in your power to the army and navy commanders in your vicinity, never losing sight of the fact, that the great object to be achieved is the capture and firm retention of New Orleans.

I am, &c.,

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Maj.-Gen. Com. U. S. A.

"The plan indicated in the above letters," quietly observes General McClellan in his Report, "comprehended in its scope the operations of all the armies in the Union, the Army of the

Potomac as well. It was my intention, for reasons easy to be seen, that its various parts should be carried out simultaneously or nearly so, and in co-operation along our whole line. If this plan was wise, and events have failed to prove that it was not, then it is unnecessary to defend any delay which would have enabled the army of the Potomac to perform its share in the execution of the whole work."

That in truth which needs defence in that period in the history of the war upon which we are now entering is not any delay in the preparations making to enable the army of the

Potomac to perform its share in the execution of General McClellan's plan of operations.

It is the breaking of the faith pledged, not to General McClellan alone, but to the whole people of the Union when he was appointed to conceive and prepare a plan of operations, that in doing this duty he should receive the "confidence” and the "cordial support" necessary to his success.

"I have no accusation against him"-said President Lincoln in a speech on the subject of General McClellan's change of base to the James River, delivered by him in Washington on the 6th of August, 1862, "I have no accusation against him. I believe he is a brave and able man, and I stand here, as justice requires me to do, to take upon myself what has been charged on the secretary of war, as withholding from him."

General McClellan, in his turn, brings no accusation against President Lincoln. The official proprieties of his position as a Major-General in the army of the United States, forbid him so to do.

But it is perfectly certain that either against President Lincoln or against General McClellan the armies and the people of the United States have a very serious "accusation" to bring. Against whom that accusation shall be brought must be decided by a single consideration, "by whom were the conditions under which the campaign of the army of the Potomac, in the spring of 1862, was commenced and prosecuted, finally and supremely controlled ?”




ABOUT the end of the year 1861, General McClellan, worn down with incessant and exhausting labor was prostrated with a severe illness. On his recovery towards the middle of January he found that his relations with the civil executive were likely to be seriously modified by two important events which had occurred in the interval.

Shortly after the meeting of Congress in December, a joint committee on the conduct of the war had been appointed by that body. The proper sphere of duty of such a committee would of course have been a candid and systematic inquiry into things actually accomplished. The members of the committee, however, did not so limit their notions of their functions. They considered themselves to be a sort of Aulic Council clothed with authority to supervise the plans of commanders in the field, to make military suggestions, and to dictate military appointments. This is evident from their own report of their proceedings; and it is necessary therefore to notice here the constitution of the committee, and its competency to the work to which at this most critical moment of the war, its members addressed themselves.

The committee consisted of six members, two from the Senate and four from the House of Representatives. With the

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