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LINCOLN, ABRAHAM, President. Autograph telegram signed ("A.Lincoln") as President, to General George B. McClellan, Washington, D.C., 10 September 1862. 1 page, oblong 8vo, one line with signature and accomplished date line, on partially printed Washington City stationery, signature and one word pale, pasted to board. Fine.

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LINCOLN, ABRAHAM, President. Autograph telegram signed ("A.Lincoln") as President, to General George B. McClellan, Washington, D.C., 10 September 1862. 1 page, oblong 8vo, one line with signature and accomplished date line, on partially printed Washington City stationery, signature and one word pale, pasted to board. Fine.

ACT I OF THE BATTLE OF ANTIETAM

On 10 September 1862, at 10:15 in the morning, President Lincoln telegraphed a cryptic note to General McClellan, in Rocksville, Maryland: "How does it look now?"

Lincoln was referring to McClellan's pursuit of the Confederate Army led into Maryland by General Robert E. Lee. In September 1862, General Lee decided that although he could not directly attack the Army of the Potomac, he would continue to act agressively by invading Maryland. Furthermore, since Maryland was a border state, Lee hoped to garner public support for the Confederate cause and for the anti-war movement in the North. McClellan, therefore, was forced by Lee's initiative to pursue the Army of Northern Virginia. On 9 September, Lee split his army into two parts: six divisions led by General "Stonewall" Jackson moved on Harper's Ferry, three divisions led by General Longstreet moved on Hagerstown (McClellan would find Lee's "Lost Order" on 13 September, but would still fail to crush the divided Rebel army by responding with his usual, lacadaisical speed.)

McClellan promptly responded to Lincoln's telegram with the following letter riddled with inconclusive information: "...I have the honor to state that Gen[era]l Pleasonton at Barnesville reports that a movement of the enemy last night is said to have been made across the Potomac from this side to the other side. We shall know the truth of this rumour soon... Gen[era]l Burnside had his scouts out last night at Ridgeville & within (3) three miles of Newmarket, &... the main Rebel forces under Jackson were still at Frederick. Burnside has sent a strong reconnaissance today to the mountain pass at Ridgeville. I propose if the information I have rec[eive]d proves reliable regarding the natural strength of this position, to occupy it with a sufficient force to resist an advance of the enemy in that direction. I have scouts and spies pushed forward in every direction and shall soon be in possession of reliable & definite information. The statements I get regarding the enemy's forces that have crossed to this side range from eighty (80) to one hundred & fifty (150) thousand... I was informed last night by Gen[era]l Pleasonton that his information rendered it probable that Jackson's force had advanced to Newmarket with Stuart's cavalry Urbanna... But the information subsequently obtained from Gen[era]l Burnside's scouts that the mass of the enemy was still at Frederick induced to suspend the movement of the right wing until I could verify the truth of the reports by means of Burnside's reconnaissances in force today... Despatch this instant rec[eive]d from Gen[era]l Pleasonton dated Barnesville 10:30 a.m. says 'my scouts occupy the ferry at the mouth of the Monocacy... At Licksville about (3) three miles from that stream it was reported there was a force of six thousand (6000) men...'"

One week after the President sent this telegram, the Battle of Antietam was fought. The Federal Army was victorious in driving the Confederates out of Maryland, but McClellan refused to immediately pursue and defeat Lee's army, claiming he did not have enough men, although he had a reserve of 24,000 soldiers who had seen little or no action during the battle. This unwillingness to pursue the Army of Northern Virginia, at least until Lincoln explicitly ordered him to do so, had serious repercussions. Lincoln personally liked and respected McClellan, primarily because of his excellent abilities as a military organizer and trainer, but the General's slowness and inabilty to take the offensive frustrated the President. On 7 November 1862, just two months after Antietam was fought, McClellan was relieved from the command of the Army of the Potomac and replaced by General Ambrose Burnside. The partial victory at Antietam, however, did give President Lincoln the Union victory he needed to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the rebellious states.
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