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Question. That is what I thought. If it is difficult for us to move, it must be the same for them.
Answer. It is true we have two good railroads not affected at all. We have a central position at Alexandria, from which things can go out on either of those two roads; but the cross-roads and the fields would be bad for our artillery to
I do not by any means say that we cannot operate this winter. I have always said that we could.
Question. I wish to ascertain, if I can, from military gentlemen, how many men we should have to keep here to make this capital perfectly secure, so as to ascertain how many we might spare any
other purpose. Answer. That would depend upon this in a great degree: where you make your defensive operations, and how many of the force in front of us could be drawn off by our other operations. If all the force now in front of us is to stay there, then we should want a large force here. If you can draw it off elsewhere, then you can do with very much less.
Question. I will suppose a hypothetical case : Suppose that an expedition should be contemplated, we will say by the way of Lynnhaven bay, starting from Fortress Monroe across to Norfolk, or up the York or James river and so on to Richmond, where pretty much all the transportation is by water. If such an expedition was contemplated, how many men could we spare to perform it, and still leave the capital sate? That would depend, I suppose, upon whether, to secure their capital, they would leave Manassas ?
Answer. Entirely so.
Answer. It was my proposition at the very first that we should take Manassas by a march as soon as we went over on the other side, instead of stopping where we did, and commencing to fortify from Long Bridge to Alexandria. If we had at once taken Manassas then, which we could have done by a simple march, we should have avoided all these difficulties. I made that memorandum in May last. I had not then been officially designated to lead the expedition across the river, but still in a way quite positively to indicate that I should lead it. There were but few men at Manassas then, and but few men at Alexandria. My plan was, to go to Alexandria and seize that; then at once go on to Manassas and seize that; then go on to the Gap, and to the Rappahannock, and fortify that, and make that our line. Then we should make demonstrations from Fortress Monroe, up James or York river, to Richmond. I submitted this in writing on the 16th of May to Mr. Chase, but it was differently arranged. I did not go to the other side of the river then, but remained here. I know that General Scott merely intended to fortify Arlington Heights—for he said so—so as to guard this house and the President's house from being shelled from the other side. He opposed, I was told, the going to alexandria at first, but finally acceded to it. We should have taken Manassas at once. We did not do so, and they at once came up to Manassas, and began to fortify it. I said to the Secretary that what we can do now by a simple march, we will have to do later by a battle, and later still by a siege. If we take Manassas, we will have the whole of northeastern Virginia free.
By Mr. Chandler : Question. You would have had a perfect railroad communication to Manassas, would you not ? Answer. Yes, sir.
By the chairman : Question. Now, I still want your opinion, as a military man of experience,
a as to the number of men you think it would be prudent to reserve here for the
defence of the capital, if an expedition was contemplated to leave it. I want to know how many men we could spare on such an expedition.
Answer. That is a question, as I am asked to answer as an expert, that I would like to have a little more time to consider. It would be mere guess-work for me to give an opinion now. We have a very long line of forts here nowa triple line of forts—all of which would require garrisons. How much these garrisons should be I do not know, for some of those forts I have never seen. I know that there are forts there, but I do not know even the number or position of many of them. I do not know what is on the other side of the river above Alexandria, nor do I know what is on the other side of the river below Alexandria. I have not been down there since my command was changed. I should say that each fort should have a garrison in it, and a sufficient corps at some central point to re-enforce them in case they should be attacked. This would be on a sliding scale—that is, if a certain thing produces a certain effect then you can diminish your force; if it does not produce that effect, you cannot diminish it.
Question. And you must take into account the difficulty of their attacking our lines as it is in our attacking them. Answer. Of course.
By Mr. Chandler: Question. And likewise the important fact that they are much more deficient in transportation than we are.
Answer. I have no doubt of that; but still they have more than we give them credit for-not so good, perhaps. And another thing in which they have an advantage over us: they are much poorer
than we are.
It is strange, you may think, that I should say that was an advantage. But I say so for this reason: our men have everything given to them that Congress and the country, and the kindness and the benevolence of the people could think of. And they have got into the way that they require and insist upon having an immense deal provided for them. They must have from thirty to forty wagons to a regiment before they will start; they must take with them bedding, cooking-stoves, and a variety of things that the other side do not think of. They, upon the other side, are poor and pinched; and poverty and hardships are the best school for the soldier.
Question. Do you believe an expedition could be made successful mostly by water-say, a force collected at Fortress Monroe or at Annapolis, and taken around into the York or the James river, and so across to Richmond ? Do you think a winter expedition of that sort would be practicable?
Answer. I am told that York river, since the time I wanted that expedition to go there, has been very strongly fortified. I must appear to be a very igdorant man; but what the nature of those fortifications are I do not know. West Point, at the head of York river, and connected to Richmond by a railroad, is a point that the enemy early saw was of immense importance. I do not know that they think it of less importance than Manassas. The river forks there; there are two streams above, and a large stream below that point, and there is a railroad from there over to Richmond. I know that General Scott disagrees with me about the importance of railroads in this warfare. It may be presumptuous, perhaps, for me to hold an opinion against him on that point; but I have always thought that railroads must be used. I do not think it is possible for us to move a large army over this country in any direction without railroads or water transportation. We cannet, as in Europe, obtain large supplies from a small region of country. Napoleon lived upon contributions that he levied upon a country that could supply them. Europe is a country without fences or hedges, without woods, and with villages every three miles or so, and filled with resources to an extent we do not think. We have great resources in our country, it is true, but it is difficult, even with great facilities, to get them
together from over a large extent of country. We would require an immense amount of transportation to move our army. We must, even when going but a few miles, take with us oats and hay for our horses, and provisions for the men, and we must move them by railroad. If we have none built now, we must build one as we go along-every ten miles go back and complete the railroad up to the point where we may be—and in that way send forward our supplies. Now, there is a railroad from West Point to Richmond, and there are fortifications all around Richmond, and if we take Richmond it must be by siege. Now, they have possession of the country from Richmond south, over which they can bring all their supplies and re-enforcements, and while we are attacking upon the one side they can re-enforce upon the other. It will require a large force and a large siege materiel to take Richmond. Any one who has read the history of the siege of Sebastopol can form some approximate idea of what would be required for such an expedition as this. We must first take the batteries upon York river, and then have the means to go up to Richmond and begin the siege of that place, and be prepared to guard ourselves from attacks on our right and left, which would be a very heavy undertaking. Now, we have a large force in front of us here, not very far off. I do not see why it is not as easy for us to go against them here as to go against Richmond.
Question. You have not so much land transportation in an expedition to Richmond ?
Answer. If seven miles did the business for the British troops in the Crimea, twenty-seven miles will do it for us here. I have been very much interested in conversing with British officers upon that subject, as they are very communicative. I have thought a great deal about that very matter. I recollect of being amazed at the time that seven miles should be such an impediment as it was with the British in getting supplies from Balaklava to the Crimea. The climate there is about the same as ours; the country is on the same isothermal line with us, and the soil there is pretty much the same kind as ours.
By the chairman :
Answer. They did make one, but they suffered all this before they built it. There was no wood there, in that we have the advantage over them. They had no timber, and could not make a plank road or a corduroy road. When they built their railroad they had to take everything there, ties and all; and before they did that they suffered terribly, and there was only six or seven miles of land transportation there.
Question. Have you ever thought about a movement on the left here, towards the railroad over which they get the most of their supplies ? Is it impossible to get an expedition through there, around through Leesburg ?
Answer. One of my generals, who is exceedingly impatient and anxious, has frequently asked me that question. Why do you not go to Leesburg, and get behind their left that way? When I was called upon to make a plan of operations to go against Manassas, and to state the force necessary for that purpose, my own plan was to move forward so far as was necessary to drive them across Bull Run, then go by the left and get around their right, for I felt that if I once tapped their line between there and Richmond they were gone; they could not get away; they could not escape. If you just cut that line, or make a demonstration to cut it, they would be obliged to come out and give you battle. But I was obliged to give that up, for when I got forward there I was drawn into a general engagement by the premature operations of the general who had the advance on the right; and, moreover, when I went to the left and found the country very much broken, the roads very narrow, and my army was in such a condition that I felt it would be very hazardous to attempt to march at once 30,000 men around by the way of Wolf Run shoals and Brentville, as I had intended to do in the first place. The line of march would have been nearly three-quarters of a circle, liable to be ruptured by them at several points, with only one road for us to go over. gave
and went around and undertook what was not so conclusive an operation to get around by our right, the more so that I was apprehensive that the compact with me that General Johnson should be kept in the valley of Virginia might not be fulfilled. Therefore I wanted to get between him and Beauregard, and I tried to do so. You now ask about turning their left. They are now at Centreville; their largest force is at Centreville. They occupy a ridge between Slaty and Rocky runs, an excellent ridge for them to defend against any approach coming from the same point we went before, that is, by the Warrenton turnpike, which goes into Little River turnpike a short distance from Germantown. Little River turnpike runs in almost a straight line a little north of west from Alexandria to Fairfax Court-House. A little before you reach Germantown the road forks, Warrenton turnpike going a little south of west, and Little River turnpike continuing on a little north of west. Centreville is some six miles from Germantown. The best road to go by their left is by Little River turnpike, which is a good, broad stone road. This road passes close by Centreville, and is intersected by two roads running north from the neighborhood of Centreville, and a force going to turn their left would have to pass with its flank exposed towards Centreville, so that if you go out that way you would have to go with the whole in army force ready for a general engagement. They are said to have 75,000 men at Centreville. I do not know but it might be a good way to go, but it would not be as conclusive as to go the other way.
I would prefer to go would be to send forward the whole army. I would place a corps d'armée of three divisions at Vienna; another of three divisions at Fairfax Court-House; another of three divisions at Fairfax Station; and another at Occoquan ; and then I would have another of three divisions for a reserve. The various corps d'armée would then be close to cach other; if one was attacked there would be one on each side to come to its assistance. Viema is supplied by railroad froin Alexandria ; Fairfax Court-House is supplied by Little River turnpike; Fairfax Station is supplied by another railroad, and the corps below would also have the same railroad by which to be supplied; so that you could use these railroads and Little River turnpike, and also Leesburg turnpike, to supply your force. These roads all radiate from the central point of Alexandria, which is a strategetical point of great consequence, so far as that force is concerned; and the roads should be made good between these different corps. Your side communications should be made good, and the country occupied in sufficient force to enable you to use your side communications; have all your secondary communications made good, that is, from Falls Church to Fairfax Court-House, and from Flint Hill, so that you could have abundant means to go forward, or to fall back if too hardly pressed. You would then have a force as large as theirs. I think it is a rule that when your force is as large as that of the enemy you should not avoid battle, but only seek to give it on favorable terms; when it is less, you then avoid battle, and when it is greater you seek to bring it on.
Now, admitting that our force would be as large as that of the enemy-I cannot tell about that—we are then on an inner circle, and have that advantage. They occupy an outer concentric circle, with a line that is probably thirty miles long. I give it approximately. The force of General Banks could then como down here, and the force of General Hooker could come up; for, if we press this large body of men forward, they would only think of detence, not of attack. They would not think of touching the capital; in fact, I have never supposed that they entertained such an idea since the blue times of last April, before we haul got suficiently strong to defend Washington. I do not believe they would attempt to cross the Potomac either below or above, for I think they have given up the idea of getting Maryland out. I think if they are pressed in this man
ner by this large force in the centre they would be obliged to weaken their extremities, or, if not, then they would run the risk of being broken ; for, with this large force pressing them, I think we should find some place along their long line that we could penetrate; and, if that is done, then they are gone. You would have this advantage: if you penetrated their lines at any place, then you could throw yourself upon the right or left, holding the other portion in check; you are upon the interior, and your forces are closer together; while we should have a line, say of fifteen miles in extent at the furthest, they would have one of thirty miles.
I cannot but come back to that plan of going around by their right, which I could not accomplish by a move, but which I think could be done by approaches, under the cover of a large force, intrenched so as to leave its lines protected, and send this force to the right or left. I do not mean such defences as are thrown up around here, but such as are thrown up in the field; what the English call half-sunk batteries, abattis, rifle pits, &c. I would have met at Vienna and at Fairfax Court-Honse; at once sent forward men in the beginning to make a line, behind which we could go, either to the right or to the left.
They are undoubtedly expecting us to do that, and that is one reason against the plan. It is a good thing not to do what the enemy expect you to do, merely because they expect it. Now, they want us to go to Centreville; I do not wish to do that, because it is a strong place. If they have done what they should, they have made it too strong, What they have done at Occoquan I do not know. I am told that they have defended it, as it has great facilities for defence.
I am speaking merely upon suppositions. I have not before me that precise information that a person ought to have before he proposes a plan upon which is to rest the fate of an expedition and the lives of men ; but, if is possible to do so, I am satisfied there is the place that ought to be pierced.
Question. Do you suppose this plan you speak of would be practicable soon ?
Answer. I do not know. That depends so much upon those things I have already fatigued you by repeating ; that is, my not knowing what our own army is and what their army is. I am speaking upon the supposition that we have a force equal to theirs. Suppose an equality of force, and our position gives us the advantage.
Question. That is, because our line is much shorter than theirs.
Answer. We operate upon an interior line, and if we break theirs we have this advantage: we throw them upon diverging lines, while we can throw our whole force upon either. Strategically we have every advantage of them. What you cannot do in presence of an army you can do strategetically. That is to say, it would be a very dangerous thing to put a body of men between two other bodies of men to be crushed by their cross-fire; but if you can do it strategetically, penetrate their line and divide it into two parts, while you hold the one in check you can throw yourself upon the other and crush it. Now, I cannot tell whether that would be reasonably sure of success. I do not know what their force at Occoquan is; I have heard of no reconnoissance made there at all.
Question. From the best information you have, what do you suppose to be the number of their troops here?
Answer. All that I have as a basis to go upon is this: I saw a letter written from Centreville, and not intended, of course, to divulge information, and that is the reason why I give faith to it. The writer was referring to the flutter that existed in the ranks of their army over there in regard to the creation of a certain number of major generals. He told how the army was organized; into brigades of four regiments cach, the same as ours; but that they only put two brigades into a division. That is, they put eight regiments, or battalions, in a division, instead of twelve, as we have. “Now," says he, in his letter, “this