Let’s see. Halleck says that if Buell’s won a battle, don’t deliver the dispatches. If Thomas isn’t handy, don’t deliver the dispatches. All very hush-hush. Any guesses as to what these dispatches might say to Buell?
WASHINGTON, September 24, 1862.
Colonel J. C. McKIBBIN, Aide-de-Camp:
COLONEL: As the bearer of the accompanying dispatches you will proceed by the most practicable to the army of General Buell in the field.
The Secretary of War directs that if General buell should be found in the presence of the enemy preparing to fight a battle, or if he should have gained a victory, or if General Thomas should be separated from him so as not be able to enter upon the command of the troops operating against the enemy, these dispatches will not be delivered,* and you will in either of the contingence above mentioned telegraph to these headquarters for further instructions. If while en route to General Buell you should ascertain that either of these contingencies have occurred you will telegraph the facts and await orders
If neither of these events should occur you will present the dispatches to both General Buell and General Thomas and return to these headquarters.
This mission is strictly confidential, and the nature of your instructions or object of your visit will not be communicated to any one.
If by any accident you should fall into the hands of the enemy you will destroy your dispatches.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
*See Halleck to McKibbin, September 27, 29, and to buell and Thomas, September 29, and McKibbin to Halleck, September 29.