This is taken from a McClellan letter to Stanton dated February 3rd, 1862. I'll post it rapidly in several consecutive posts to get the thread started. Part #1 ... The second base of operations available for the Army of the Potomac is that of the lower Chesapeake bay, which affords the shortest possible land route to Richmond and strikes directly at the heart of the enemy's power in the east. The roads in that region are passable at all seasons of the year. The country now alluded to is much more favorable for offensive operations than that in front of Washington (which is very unfavorable): much more level, more cleared land, the woods less dense, the soil more sandy, and the spring some two or three weeks earlier. A movement in force on that line obliges the enemy to abandon his entrenched position at Manassas, in order to hasten to cover Richmond and Norfolk. He must do this ; for should he permit us to occupy Richmond his destruction can be -averted only by entirely defeating us in a battle in which he must be the assailant. This movement, if successful, gives us the capital, the communications, the supplies of the rebels ; Norfolk would fall ; all the waters of the Chesapeake would be ours ; all Virginia would be in our power, and the enemy forced to abandon Tennessee and North Carolina. The alternative presented to the enemy would be, to beat us in a position selected by ourselves, disperse, or pass beneath the Caudine Forks. Notes and opinions: The "Caudine Forks" is a reference to an event in 321 BC, the Battle of the Caudine Forks (a battle with no fighting or casualties). Outwitted and trapped by the Samnites, the Romans negotiated and were allowed to retreat. The "shortest possible land route to Richmond" looks like this using Google Maps: Arlington to Richmond on I-95 is 106 miles Fort Monroe to Richmond on I-64 is 80.4 miles Urbanna to Richmond on VA-33 and I-64 is 56.3 miles. The Confederate routes to Richmond look like this: Manassas to Richmond using I-95 is 95.2 miles Centreville to Richmond using I-95 is 106 miles On the "passable at all seasons of the year" roads: ROFL On the "much more favorable for offensive operations" country "with much more level, more cleared land, the woods less dense, the soil more sandy": where was he talking about? I am unclear as to why McClellan thinks taking Richmond means the Rebels must abandon Tennessee. North Carolina would certainly be threatened if the Union took Richmond; I doubt the Rebels would abandon it without a fight.