The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5 by Abraham Lincoln
Opposition to McClellan's Plans
TO GENERAL G. B. McCLELLAN,
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, February 3, 1862.
DEAR SIR--You and I have distinct and different plans for a movement of the Army of the Potomac--yours to be down the Chesapeake, up the Rappahannock to Urbana, and across land to the terminus of the railroad on the York River; mine to move directly to a point on the railroad southwest of Manassas.
If you will give me satisfactory answers to the following questions, I shall gladly yield my plan to yours.
First. Does not your plan involve a greatly larger expenditure of time and money than mine?
Second. Wherein is a victory more certain by your plan than mine?
Third. Wherein is a victory more valuable by your plan than mine?
Fourth. In fact, would it not be less valuable in this, that it would break no great line of the enemy's communications, while mine would?
Fifth. In case of disaster, would not a retreat be more difficult by your plan than mine?
Memorandum accompanying Letter of President Lincoln to General
McClellan, dated February 3,1862.
First. Suppose the enemy should attack us in force before we reach the Occoquan, what?
Second. Suppose the enemy in force shall dispute the crossing of the Occoquan, what? In view of this, might it not be safest for us to cross the Occoquan at Coichester, rather than at the village of Occoquan? This would cost the enemy two miles of travel to meet us, but would, on the contrary, leave us two miles farther from our ultimate destination.
Third. Suppose we reach Maple Valley without an attack, will we not be attacked there in force by the enemy marching by the several roads from Manassas; and if so, what?