James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
returned from his visit to the Army (July 8) perplexed in mind. In May he had told General Meade, I am trying to do my duty but no one can imagine what influences are brought to bear on me.1 Conditions in this respect were worse in July. The Radicals not only pressed him to make a declaration against slavery but urged him to remove McClellan, whom they denounced as incompetent or disloyal and utterly out of sympathy with any attack upon slavery. They had induced the President to give Frémont another command after he had shown his incapacity in Missouri; they had another favorite in Benjamin F. Butler; but Pope had a military education which the others lacked and seemed to be equally zealous against slavery. Stanton and Chase desired the President to remove McClellan and send Pope to take command of the army on the James river; this he declined to do but he offered the command of the Army of the Potomac to Burnside, who peremptorily declined it.
On July 23, Halleck reached Washington, went next day to the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac and had a frank talk with McClellan, who, eager to remain on the James river, said that with a reënforcement of 20,000 to 30,000, he would cross the James river, attack Petersburg, an important railway centre, and cut the communication between Richmond and the States farther South. Halleck did not approve this plan and, on his return to Washington, the President, guided by his and other advice, determined to withdraw McClellans army to Aquia Creek in spite of the Generals warm protest. Then Lee decided to attack Pope who, well-informed and wary, retreated before the superior Confederate force. Lee, watching the movement from a hill, said to Longstreet, with a sigh of disappointment,