Sunday, May 7, 2017

Alexander Hamilton Jr. to Abraham Lincoln, May 26, 1862

New York May 26. 62
My Dear Sir

In the present embarrassed situation of our affairs, I feel it to be a duty to make the following suggestions, with the remark, that what has occurred, in the Shenandoah Valley, has not come to me unanticipated, and, when, a full development shall be made of the movements of the enemy, you will find there exists more reason to apprehend an attack on the federal city, than you imagine—

That there has been the greatest mismanagement in the War Department, there can be no question, and none, more so, than was exhibited, in the subdivision of the command of General McClellan, whereby he lost all control and supervision of the important wing, the right of his operations, while the forces under McDowel were pushed to a position, worse than useless, from which they cannot retreat, without a positive demonstration of extreme weakness—

In the stupid ignorance, which has been shown, in withdrawing the main strength from Banks, himself a military failure, there would seem to be almost sufficient grounds for the suspicion of disloyalty somewhere, at all event, the mischief occasioned is irrepareable, a disgraceful route, paralyzing to our efforts and confidence every where.

It would appear, that your telegraphic communications have been so cut off, that you have no reliable information with regard to the onward progress of the enemies forces from Front Royal, either down the Shenandoah to Harpers Ferry, or to Leesburg, or by the Manassas Gap railroad, cutting off the supplies proceeding to our army on the Rappahanoc—

In this dilemma, and pregnant uncertainty, the course of the War Department should exercise no other discretion, than an instant call for an overwhelming militia army from the North, a few regiments in small detachments, or in any thing, but in army divisions, with pious boys play—

If Washington should be fall, the great object and aim of the present strategical movements of the South, the whole financial operations of the government would come to a deplorable stand still, carrying with the default, the most fatal consequences to all future movements of troops or supplies, every thing, every where, would be reduced to a state of complete abeyance—

I may speculate too far in supposing that you have no efficient military strength in front of Washington, still, I fear, the luck is sadly against any estimate of reliable security, especially, in the panic condition which surrounds you, seriously intensified, with the extraordinary imbecility which has recently brought into collision, the civil with the military authorities, the end of which, may open a vista, too serious to be portrayed, too dangerous to be contemplated, as the inevitable overthrow of our republican institutions, a revolution which may carry the government of Washington into precipitate retirement—

If the enemy should reach Harpers Ferry they will command the Canal and Railroad along the entire line of the Potomac, where they will not only cut off your supplies, but by a rapid movement, from the river to the interior of Maryland, the remnant of the fighting army of Banks may be caught, the distance to past, to effect that object, cannot exceed fifteen miles. It will open the whole route to Baltimore and Washington, by canal and railroad, the City of Frederick will of course be taken on the way, through a slight detour of about three miles, it is therefore all important, that a sufficient force should be dispatched from Baltimore to resist the torrent, and that instant measures be taken to prepare for the necessary obstructions on both lines of conveyance—

Within a few miles of the Frederick I ascertain, there is a heavy bridge structure crossing the Monocacy, the waters of which is entirely too deep to be forded, this ought to be looked to, so along the whole line of the road to the Riley House—

A short distance above Ellecotts Mills, there is a short and easy way to the rear of Baltimore, affording a most convenient opportunity for a surprise, especially, as along that approach, a strong secession force of sympathizers would be very likely to congregate—

In the present distresses of the government I should be happy to lend any aid and counsel, and, as I have had military experience in the United States services, if the president will send me a commission as Brigadier General, I will lose no time in presenting myself at Washington

With great regard
Your Ob Sevt
A Hamilton.
To Abraham Lincoln

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