- Nov 10, 2006
Wow! That's a lot to digest. I'm afraid I have to disagree with 67th's interpretation.
"This telegram is often mis-quoted. Some parse it as an order for an immediate movement"
The President directs that you cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy or drive him south. Your army must move now while the roads are good.
There's no ambiguity there. It's a direct order to move.
and it concludes " It is necessary that the plan of your operations be positively determined on before orders are given for building bridges and repairing railroads. "
Which is a control measure. Which is why it's necessary to read the whole telegram. Whilst McClellan may be ordered to cross the Potomac, he is not allowed to until a plan of operations has been agreed to by Halleck. Halleck had ordered McClellan to submit a plan for approval before he's allowed to bridge the Potomac.
McClellan promptly submitted a plan for consideration, and didn't get a reply (which was a disapproval) until the 16th. In the meantime he is constrained by Halleck's order NOT to cross the Potomac until a plan has been agreed upon.