May 27 Report of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan


Cincinnati, May 27, 1861.

COLONEL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the General-in-Chief’s letter of the 21st,* together with telegram of the 24th and 26th. My time has been so much occupied, both by day and night, that I have been unable to reply to the General’s letter, nor can I at the present moment do more than acknowledge its receipt.

I was engaged in maturing plans to carry out the General’s telegraphic instructions, when I learned by telegram that two bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, near Farmington Station, had been burned on Saturday night. I received this information late yesterday afternoon at Camp Dennision. I at once returned to the city. Colonel Kelley, of the First Virginia Volunteers, with his own regiment and four companies of the Second, are ordered by telegraph to move without delay from?wheeling towards Fairmont, guarding the bridges as they proceed. Colonel Irvine, Sixteenth Ohio, at Bellaire, was ordered to support the movement. Colonel Steedman, Fourteenth Ohio, supported by the Eighteenth and two light guns, was ordered to occupy Parkersburg and the lines of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, towards Grafton. I should premise that I had received information that the rebels intended to destroy the rest of the bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

I inclose copies of my telegraphic and written order to these officers; also of a proclamation ordered to be distributed among the inhabitants as the troops advance, and of an address to be issued to the troops. These are very hurriedly prepared, but I hope they will meet the approval of the Lieutenant-General.

Colonel Kelley left Wheeling at about 7 a. m. to-day. Colonel Irvine crossed to Benwood at about 10 o’clock. Colonel Steedman moved to Parkersburg at about 10 o’clock. By telegraph this morning I directed the necessary supplies to re-establish the telegraphic communication, and to repair the bridges, &c., to be forwarded at once from Wheeling.

General Morris holds himself ready to move from Indianapolis, on receipt of telegraphic orders, with from two to five regiments, should it become necessary. The regiments at Camp Dennison are in the midst of the process of reorganization for three years’ service. By to-morrow night one fine regiment will be ready to move,and the others will soon be prepared. I hope, however, that the force already, detailed towards Grafton will suffice for the end in view. I telegraphed this morning to Major Oakes, making him an acting aide-de-camp temporarily, that he might be able to interfere authoritatively should it prove necessary.

Hoping that my course will meet the approval of the General,

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General, U. S. Army, Commanding Department.

Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.

P. S. – Nothing is yet known by the public of this movement. I have thus far succeeded in keeping it secret, and hope to do so until Grafton is occupied or the troops considerably advanced.

P. P. S. – Have this instant heard from Colonel Kelley, as follows:


Agreeably to your orders, I left my camp this morning at 5 o’clock with my regiment and Captain Hayes’ company of the Second Regiment. Just arrived here without accident or casualty. found the road in good order. Bridges all safe, and guarded by the railroad-company men and loyal citizens. Will move forward four miles to the burned bridges. This town will be occupied by Colonel irvine, who follows. We will repair bridges soon as possible.

I also hear that Parkersburg is occupied and all quiet.


[Inclosure No. 1.]

Instructions to Colonel B. F. Kelley, Fist Virginia Infantry.


The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. II. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.