James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.
|to hear him admit that his men need holding.’” 1 The despatches from Pope were indeed alarming. In one of them he asked whether Washington were secure if his army should be destroyed; in another he disclosed his lack of confidence in the Army of the Potomac and its officers’ lack of confidence in him. McClellan, who was now at Alexandria, did not “regard Washington as safe against the rebels. If I can quietly slip over there,” he said in a letter to his wife, “I will send your silver off.”
| September 2 was an anxious day in Washington. Early in the morning came a despatch from Pope telling a sad tale of demoralization of his own army and of excessive straggling from many regiments of the Army of the Potomac. “Unless something can be done,” he continued, “to restore tone to this army, it will melt away before you know it.” The President knew the one remedy and, in spite of the bitter opposition and remonstrance he was certain to encounter, placed McClellan, who in the shifting of troops had been deprived of all actual authority, in command of all the soldiers for the defence of the capital. Halleck had already ordered Pope to bring his forces within or near the lines of the fortifications; there his authority passed to McClellan. In view of the “great danger to Washington,” Halleck asked that all the available troops be sent as rapidly as possible to the capital. A number of gunboats were ordered up the river, and anchored at different points in proximity to the city, and a war steamer was brought to the Navy Yard. All the clerks and employees of the civil departments and all employees in the public buildings were called to arms for the defence of Washington. The sale of spirituous liquors at retail within the District of Columbia was prohibited. It was a moment of acute anxiety.