Comments on Viva Rafuse

Reader Will Keene sent this clip in regarding the command crisis and it's a real find. "Saw something today I thought you might enjoy." LINK:

The Command of the Army of the Potomac. – The Buffalo Commercial Advertiser asserts as a fact that when the rebels threatened Maryland the President asked Gen. Halleck who should be placed in command of our forces to drive them back. The answer was, McClellan, but on being requested to accept the position Gen. McClellan
positively refused, because he had been so hampered in the past. The command was then offered to Burnside, who declined, saying that Gen. McClellan was the only
man for the place. Gen. Banks next received the offer, but he too declined it for the same reason assigned by Burnside. A second interview with McClellan, in which Halleck told him it was his duty to take the command, resulted in his acceptance on condition that he should not be meddled with. The Washington correspondent of the Chicago Tribune also states that the command of the army was in turn offered to the above named Generals. (Hartford Courant, October 25, 1862)
Will has his own take on the crisis chronology and I will yield the floor to him.
Some thoughts on your chronology (all my information is from the OR).

If you are going to start with the 8/30/62 message from McClellan to Barnard, I would also include 8/31/62 10:25 p.m. McClellan to Halleck: "I am ready to afford you any assistance in my power, but you will readily perceive how difficult an undefined position, such as I now hold, must be. At what hour in the morning can I see you alone either at your own house or the office?" and that Halleck's aide responded same night "he will see you at any time to-morrow morning that will suit your convenience."

You mentioned that on 9/2/62 McClellan, Halleck, and Lincoln meet. But you do not mention what McClellan stated that meeting resulted in: "I was verbally instructed by the President and the General-in-Chief to assume command of General Pope’s troops (including my own Army of the Potomac) as soon as they approached the vicinity of Washington; to go out and meet them, and to post them as I deemed best to repulse the enemy and insure the safety of the city." [This is from his report "of operations August 14—November 9" written on October 15, 1862 and the same source as the quote in my previous email "honored with the charge of this campaign, I entered at once upon the additional duties imposed upon me.".]

After the phrase "Does McClellan command in chief on this side of the river" in the message of 9/3/62 from Pope to Assistant AG Col. Kelton, you added the parenthetical '[north of the Potomac]'. I think you are mistaken. I think Pope is referring to the south side of the river.

I would have also included 9/3/62 1:40 p.m. Pope to Halleck: "We ought not to lose a moment in pushing forward the fresh troops to confront the enemy. ... Somebody ought to have the supreme command here. Let us not sit down quietly, but push forward again. I give you these suggestions because I believe them very important. ..."

You included Lincoln's order to Halleck to organize a field army. I would also include what comes right after it in the OR -- 9/3/62 (no time noted) Halleck to McClellan: "There is every probability that the enemy, baffled in his intended capture of Washington, will cross the Potomac, and make a raid into Maryland or Pennsylvania. A movable army must be immediately organized to meet him again in the field. You will, therefore, report the approximate force of each corps of the three armies now in the vicinity of Washington, which can be prepared in the next two days to take the field, and have them supplied and ready for that service."

You quoted portions of the message of 9/5/62 (no time noted) from Halleck to McClellan. I would have included the final clause: "so that you may act accordingly in putting forces in the field."

I would also have included 9/5/62 (no time noted) from Halleck to McClellan: "I think there can now be no doubt that the enemy are crossing the Potomac in force, and that you had better dispatch General Sumner and additional forces to follow. If you agree with me, let our troops move immediately."

In your summary of my objections, you state "it cannot negate the underlying evidence that he was not so honored (which unfolds in the timeline I have posted)." Here is what I see unfolding in the timeline (enhanced with the above):

1) On the 2nd, McCllean is given authority over all the troops in the defense of Washington including the Army of Virginia and the Army of the Potomac.

2) On the 3rd Lincolm directs Halleck to have a field army organized and Halleck directs McClellan to ready troops for that purpose.

3) On the 5th Halleck informs McClellan of command and organizational changes "so that you may act accordingly in putting forces in the field." and instructs him to "dispatch General Sumner and additional forces to follow ... move immediately."

Therefore, McClellan was commander of all the troops (see point 1) and under directions to organize a field army (see point 2) and to put that force in motion
(see point 2). Though Lincoln casts around for another commander, no one had been selected. As such, McClellan was by default the commander of the field