Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 37.djvu/108
100 Southern Historical Society Papers.
Heights have always been regarded as an important point to be held by us, and much expense and labor incurred in fortify- ing them." This seems to have been the last straw with Hooker to break the camel's back. On returning to his headquarters and finding Halleck's reply, at I P. M., on the 27th, Hooker telegraphed Halleck, asking to be relieved at once of the com- mand of the Army.
Halleck replied at 8 P. M., that his request would be referred to the President. No doubt he was secretly pleased at the op- portunity afforded of getting rid of Hooker, but it was an awk- ward thing to change commanders in the field on the eve of an impending battle, and the situation caused grave anxiety at Washington. The matter was one which admitted of no delay, and after a conference with his advisers, the President selected Meade to succeed Hooker, and an order was immediately pre- pared to that effect, which, together with a letter from Halleck, was entrusted to General* Hardie, to be delivered in person to Meade. The letter was received by him during the early hours of the morning of the 28th. In reference to the selection of Meade, Mr. Wells, in his diary, says, with some apparent chagrin, the cabinet were advised about it the next morning, and "were consulted after the fact."
In his modest acknowledgment of the order, General Meade announced that he should move toward the Susquehanna, keep- ing Washington and Baltimore well covered, and if the enemy was checked in his attempt to cross the Susquehanna, of if he turns toward Baltimore, give him battle. Meade's letter must have been satisfactory to Halleck, for he was assured that every available assistance should be given him: That General Schenck's troops outside of the line of defenses, at Washington, and General Couch's forces on the Susquehanna, were subject to his orders, and were directed to co-operate with him. At the same time Meade asked permission to withdraw a portion of the garrison at Harper's Ferry, leaving a detachment to guard Maryland Heights, to which Halleck replied: "The garrison at Harper's Ferry is under your orders, you can increase or diminish it as you think circumstances justify." In addition to these re-inforcements, a large number of horses as remounts were for-