June 4, 1862: Halleck says Pope is hot on Beauregard’s tail — But he’s not

General John Pope
John Pope

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Halleck reported to Secretary of War Stanton that Pope had given him some exciting news. Pope had 10,000 prisoners and was in hot pursuit of the defeated Beauregard. Stanton congratulated Halleck, Lincoln congratulated Halleck, the dispatch was publicized nationwide. The only problem was that it wasn’t true — Beauregard got away more or less clean.


H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.
Honorable E. M. STANTON.
HALLECK’S HEADQUARTERS, June 4.

General Pope, with 40,000, is 30 miles south of Corinth, pushing the enemy hard. He already reports 10,000 prisoners and deserters from enemy are throwing away their arms. A farmer says that when Beauregard learned that Colonel Elliott had cut the railroad on his line of retreat he became frantic, and told his men to save themselves the best they could. We have captured nine locomotives and a number of cars. One is already repaired and is running to-day. Several more will be in running order in two or three days. The results is all I could possibly desire.

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General, Commanding.

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON, June 4, 1862.

Your glorious dispatch has just been received, and I have sent it into every State. The whole land will soon ring with applause at the achievement of your gallant army and its able and victorious commander.

EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

Major-General HALLECK, Corinth.
WASHINGTON, June 4, 1862.

Your dispatch of to-day to Secretary of War received. Thanks for the good news it brings.
Have you anything from Memphis or other parts of the Mississippi River?
Please answer.

A. LINCOLN.

This controversial dispatch prompted a testy exchange later in the Official Record. Pope denied ever sending such a report to Halleck, but after the end of the war, when Pope asked Halleck to check his records, Halleck was too busy and all his stuff was packed. Needless to say, Pope was a bit miffed.


Major-General H. W. HALLECK, U. S. A.,
Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: The war has now ended and the events and incidents connected with it are passing into history. As I do not wish that any report or misconception which has been circulated to my prejudice and which is susceptible of explanation should stand recorded against me, and as the reasons which actuated me in preserving silence until this time no longer exist, I desire to invite your attention to a dispatch published in the newspapers, dated at Corinth, Miss., June 4, 1862, purporting to have been sent by you to the Secretary of War, and containing substantially the following words,viz: “General Pope is 30 miles south of Corinth, pushing the enemy hard. He already reports 10,000 prisoners and deserters and 15,000 stand of arms captured,” &c. I do not know that you ever sent such a dispatch; but as I do know that I never made such a report, I infer that if you sent the dispatch in question you must have done so under a very great misapprehension. I have therefore to request that you furnish me a copy of any report made by me upon which such a dispatch as that in question was sent. I have full records of all my letters, dispatches, and reports to you during the operations at Corinth, and no such report is among them.

I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. POPE,
Major-General.

WASHINGTON, July 5, 1862.
Major-General JOHN POPE, Present:

GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 3rd instant. As my papers are all boxed up for transportation to California, I am not able to refer to the dispatches to which you allude nor can I trust my memory in regard to communications made more than three years ago, further than to say that I never reported to the Secretary of War dispatches received from you which were not so received.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. HALLECK,
Major-General.

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 5, 1865.
Major-General H. W. HALLECK, U. S. A.,
New York, N. Y.:

GENERAL: Your note in reply to my letter of yesterday’s date was received this afternoon too late to be answered before you left the city.

I regret that you did not see fit to make the very brief examination of you files necessary to make it plain to you that the correction asked for in my letter was due to me. I was at least entitled to an assurance that such examination should be made at the earliest practicable moment. Certainly the three weeks which you are to pass in New York afford ample time to inspect very fully all your papers bearing on the subject of my letter. As you do not promise an examination now or at any other time I am constrained to say to you that the statement which, “trusting to your memory and without inspection of your files,” do you make is altogether unsatisfactory, and leaves me at a loss to determine whether you are to be understood as denying that you sent the dispatch to the Secretary of War which was the subject of my letter, or whether, in the face of my positive denial, you mean to insist that the dispatch was a correct transcript, or anything like it, of a report made to you by me. If it be your purpose to make such a statement, as an answer to my deliberate and unqualified assertion that no such report as that attributed to me was ever made by me, it becomes more necessary than ever that you should examine your files and furnish me with the papers I ask for. In short, general, I utterly deny that the dispatch purporting to have been sent by you to the Secretary of War was based upon any report from me such as is therein stated, and I therefore call upon you either to disavow this dispatch or to furnish me with a copy of the report attributed to me. In almost any other case this question could be easily and conclusively decided by a reference to the official files at the headquarters of the department which you then commanded; but I have ascertained, general, that when you left the West your ordered that portion of the dispatches and reports concerning the operations around Corinth which bore upon this question to be cut of the official books and brought with you to Washington, leaving the official records in Saint Louis mutilated and incomplete.

These dispatches thus taken are believed to be in your possession. It is not necessary for me to comment upon this transaction further than to say that it manifestly leaves the question I make with you to be settled by my files and those now in your possession, together with the evidence of officers, telegraphic operators, and others whose duties and position enable them to speak with knowledge on the subject.

I trust, general, that you understand that this correspondence has not been begun by me without due consideration, nor without abundant testimony to maintain my position on the question involved. You must therefore see that the matter cannot be disposed of by such a note as yours of this date. The case between us is very simple. You are believed to have sent a dispatch to the Secretary of War asserting that I had made certain reports. I deny utterly that I did so. The onus of proof is therefore with you, and I might well be contented to rest the matter here, but it is proper to inform you that I have abundant evidence to establish the negative of the statement contained in the dispatch attributed to you as far as that dispatch as that dispatch relates to me. My main purpose in writing to you on the subject was to give you the opportunity to explain the matter in a manner that, while it would relieve me from the misconception arising from your dispatch, would leave unimpaired the personal relations which have always existed between us. It is my wish to maintain those relations if possible; but you must be aware that I cannot long do so unless you act toward me in the same spirit of frankness in which my letter of yesterday was written. It will afford me real satisfaction upon the receipt of the copy of the report attributed to me in the dispatch in question, accompanied by such an explanation as a spirit of frankness and candor would dictate, to recall and destroy this letter. Such explanation is, however, due to me, and I trust sincerely that you will not leave Now York, where I understand you are to remain three weeks, without making the brief examination of your files necessary to a full explanation of the subject.

I send the original of this to you by the hands of Major Scott, your staff officer, and a copy by mail to the care of John C. Hamilton, esq.

I will leave for Saint Louis Friday, the 7th instant, at which place any communication will reach me.

I am, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. POPE,
Major-General.

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One Response to June 4, 1862: Halleck says Pope is hot on Beauregard’s tail — But he’s not

  1. Sammy Foster says:

    Following the correspondence between these two prolific Generals has been an interesting experience since their arrival at Pittsburg Landing. Somehow, Pope arrived with 30,000 men and his army grew to more than 50,000 in a matter of weeks when Halleck reorganized the department. By contrast, Buell (ranking General under Halleck) was reduced to 3 divisions and Grant was “promoted” to be nothing more than a spectator as Halleck’s assistant. Popesw reports were frequently filled with misconceptions as he reported every rumor from deserters, runaways and local citizens straight to Halleck. He fell for every deception Beauregard employed…

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