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This week in the civil war

Lincoln prods cautious general

On Jan. 30, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issues Special War Order No. 1 seeking to prod federal forces into waging all-out war against secession-minded states.

Lincoln’s order is essentially directed at the Army of the Potomac and its commander, Gen. George McClellan, whose forces are ordered to open offensive operations by Feb. 22, 1862, with the immediate object of “seizing and occupying a point upon the railroad” in nearby Virginia.

The order underscores the president’s growing insistence that federal forces begin a general advance on the Confederacy. The president’s order also underscores growing political pressure on Lincoln for a large-scale offensive.

Nevertheless, a reluctant McClellan seeks more time to further equip and organize troops as he completes his own meticulous plan – for a major thrust from the Virginia coast on Richmond, capital of the Confederacy. McClellan’s so-called Peninsula campaign, which ultimately will go down as a failure, is still many weeks off.

– Associated Press