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MAJOR-GENERAL FREMONT, Mount Jackson, Virginia:
Your despatch of yesterday, reminding me of a supposed understanding that I would furnish you a corps of 35,000 men, and asking of me the "fulfilment of this understanding," is received. I am ready to come to a fair settlement of accounts with you on the fulfilment of understandings.
Early in March last, when I assigned you to the command of the Mountain Department, I did tell you I would give you all the force I could, and that I hoped to make it reach 35,000. You at the same time told me that within a reasonable time you would seize the railroad at or east of Knoxville, Tenn., if you could. There was then in the department a force supposed to be 25,000, the exact number as well known to you as to me. After looking about two or three days, you called and distinctly told me that if I would add the Blenker division to the force already in the department, you would undertake the job. The Blenker division contained 10,000, and at the expense of great dissatisfaction to General McClellan I took it from his army and gave it to you. My promise was literally fulfilled. I have given you all I could, and I have given you very nearly, if not quite, 35,000.
Now for yours. On the 23d of May, largely over two months afterward, you were at Franklin, Va., not within 300 miles of Knoxville, nor within 80 miles of any part of the railroad east of it, and not moving forward, but telegraphing here that you could not move for lack of everything. Now, do not misunderstand me. I do not say you have not done all you could. I presume you met unexpected difficulties; and I beg you to believe that as surely as you have done your best, so have I. I have not the power now to fill up your Corps to 35,000. I am not demanding of you to do the work of 35,000. I am only asking of you to stand cautiously on the defensive, get your force in order, and give such protection as you can to the valley of the Shenandoah and to western Virginia.
Have you received the orders, and will you act upon them?
- The Project Gutenberg eBook, Speeches and Letters of Abraham Lincoln, 1832-1865, by Abraham Lincoln, Edited by Merwin Roe