At the Cabinet meeting two days later (September 4) all the members present except Blair were unanimous against McClellan and almost ready to denounce the President for reinstating him in command. On the morrow, Lincoln said to John Hay: McClellan has acted badly in this matter, but we must use what tools we have. There is no man in the army who can man these fortifications and lick these troops of ours into shape half as well as he. Unquestionably he has acted badly toward Pope. He wanted him to fail. That is unpardonable. But he is too useful now to sacrifice. And at another time Lincoln said, If he cant fight himself he excels in making others ready to fight.1
The intelligence came that Lee with his army was crossing the Potomac into Maryland. The Union troops must be sent in pursuit and a commander for them must be designated. The President said to McClellan, General, you will take command of the forces in the field. To Pope was sent an order which ended his service as a general in the Civil War.
Nothing is easier than to point out the mistakes in a military campaign after the event, but some contemporary expressions disclose the belief that, in trusting so much to Halleck and to Pope, the President was leaning on broken reeds. Welles thought that Hallecks mind was heavy and irresolute, that he did not possess originality and had little real military talent. Admiral Foote, who was under Halleck in the West, insisted that he was a military imbecile though he might make a good clerk. Montgomery