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Headquarters of the Army,
To the Hon. the Secretary of War:
Sir: I received yesterday from Major-General McClellan a letter of that date, to which I design this as my only reply.
Had Major-General McClellan presented the same views in person, they would have been freely entertained and discussed. All my military views and opinions had been so presented to him, without eliciting much remark in our few meetings, which I have in vain sought to multiply. He has stood on his guard, and now places himself on record. Let him make the most of his unenvied advantages.
Major-General McClellan has propagated in high quarters the idea expressed in the letter before me, that Washington was not only " insecure," but in " imminent danger."
Relying on our numbers, our forts, and the Potomac River, I am confident in the opposite opinion; and considering the stream of new regiments that is pouring in upon us (before this alarm could have reached their homes), I have not the slightest apprehension for the safety of the Government here.
Having now been long unable to mount a horse, or to walk more than a few paces at a time, and consequently being unable to review troops, much less to direct them in battle - in short, being broken down by many particular hurts, besides the general infirmities of age - I feel that I have become an incumbrance to the army as well as to myself, and that I ought, giving way to a younger commander, to seek the palliatives of physical pain and exhaustion.
Accordingly, I must beg the President, at the earliest moment, to allow me to be placed on the officers' retired list, and then quietly to lay myself up - probably forever - somewhere in or about New York. But, wherever I may spend my little remainder of life, my frequent and latest prayer will be, " God save the Union ! "
I have the honor to be, sir, with high respect, your obedient servant, Winfield Scott.
- Winfield Scott
- Great Commanders General McClellan, General Peter S. Michie, 1901