3 pages on blind-stamped lined paper, 9.75 x 7.75 inches, Head Quarters of the Army, Washington D.C., November 12, 1861. Written to Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell on the very day that McClellan relieved Sherman of his command in Kentucky, assigning those responsibilities to Buell, as stated in the Orders outlined in this communication. In part: "...Upon assuming command of the Dept. of the Ohio, I will be glad to have you make a careful report of the condition and situation of your troops...the main point to which I desire to call your attention is the necessity of entering Eastern Tennessee as soon as it can be done...and I hope that you will, with the least possible delay, organize a column for that purpose, sufficiently guarding at the same time the main avenues by which the Rebels might invade Kentucky. In regard to political matters - have in mind that we are fighting solely to preserve the integrity of the Union and to uphold the power of the Government. As far as military necessity will permit, religiously respect the rights of all. Preserve the strictest discipline among the troops, and while employing the utmost energy in military movements...be careful not to widen the breach existing between us and the Rebels. You will find it well to direct that no arrests shall be made except by your order or that of your generals unless in extraordinary cases...always holding the party making the arrest responsible for the propriety of his course. If the military suggestions I have made in this letter prove to have been founded upon erroneous data, you are, of course, perfectly free to change the plan of operations." Partial tearing along the natural folds and slight browning at the edges; still an extraordinary item in very good condition.
Union Major General who organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly (Nov. 1861 - March 1862) as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Failing to maintain the trust of Lincoln, McClellan was removed from his commands; first as general-in-chief, then from the Army of the Potomac. Buell aided McClellan in organizing the Army of the Potomac and was rewarded for this support by being sent, in November 1861, to Kentucky to succeed General Sherman in command after the latter had buckled under the responsibility. There Buell organized the Army of Ohio which formed the basis of the future Army of the Cumberland -- the most highly trained, successful, and modern army on either side of the Civil War. He was expected to liberate East Tennessee at the same time that he protect Louisville and take Nashville. McClellan's decision to appoint Buell commander of the Army of the Ohio is arguably the best military decision he made throughout the war. The importance of this letter is cited in "Collected Works: the Abraham Lincoln Association" and "The Official Records of the War Between the States," both of which are available on line with the complete text of this letter.