eHistory logo Primary Sources Section
Primary Sources Home | Search eHistory

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

You are currently in Volume II | Pages range from 1 to 1012

Go to Page (current volume):  
Index | Previous | Next
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 2, Part 1 (First Manassas Campaign)
Page 849 Chapter IX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

that things appeared to be fast assuming the aspect of good military organization, and officers and men cheerful and buoyant. I spent the evening and night at Colonel Jackson's headquarters, and even my limited observation there confirmed the general tone of all around him, that all were in good hands under his command. You will doubtless have better sources of information than could be opened to a wayfarer, but the immediate and daily intercourse between Harper's Ferry and Baltimore, although the pregnant source of countless rumors, yet there are occasional items of intelligence which, when put together, may not be unworthy of consideration; and although you are doubtless kept fully advised by Colonel Jackson, yet I venture to throw in my mite.

The Federal troops being now in full possession of Baltimore, with the railroads leading to it, north and east, from Pennsylvania, and the spirit of resistance in Maryland overpowered, for the time at least, it is considered that the Federal Army will be gradually extended, and in force, westward along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It has been said in the papers, I know not whether on authority, that Governor Letcher has some scruple or doubt about occupying the mountain heights in Maryland opposite to Harper's Ferry. Of course I did not inquire of Colonel Jackson, nor do I know, what counsels prevail on this point. I learned at the Ferry, in general conversation, that some four or five hundred Virginia troops occupied those heights, and it was said that preparation was making to fortify or intrench them. That whichever power holds those heights commands the town of Harper's Ferry none can doubt; and there is as little doubt that a small body entrenched and fortified there, well and appropriately armed, could hold it against a far superior force. All this, however, is better known to you than to me. I want to speak only of our right to fortify and hold those heights, whether Maryland protest or no, putting aside the law of necessity and its sanctions. If Maryland were so jure, and a friendly contiguous power, the occupation of her territory by forces hostile and menacing to Virginia give the clear right in public law to Virginia to occupy her territory too, so far as necessary for self-protection; a right not to be questioned under existing circumstances by Maryland or any other power. But Maryland is not so jure; she remains one of the United States, a power now foreign to Virginia, and in open and avowed hostility to us. Occupying her territory, therefore, is only occupying territory of the enemy; nor is it invasion in the proper sense of that term, because the occupation is defensive and precautionary only, and not for aggression, and will cease as soon as the enemy withdraw from Maryland.

I have another suggestion to make, because of the disaffected condition of portions of the northwestern part of Virginia pervaded by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, a highway owned and controlled by Marylanders, who are now in complete subjection to the Federal power. It seems important to me that a sufficient military force of our State should be exhibited and retained along that road, at important points west of Harper's Ferry, and at least as far as the western slopes of the Alleghany Mountains; and as two such points I would indicate Piedmont, in Hampshire County, and Grafton, in Taylor County. The preservation of this road, I should presume, will be all important to the Federal power, and of correlative importance to us to have it in our power-if unable to hold it, to break it up at points where it will be impracticable to restore or repair it in any convenient time. The numerous tunnels through the mountains, the numerous bridges across the rivers and streams, and especially the expensive and complicated

54 R R-VOL II


Page 849 Chapter IX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 2, Part 1 (First Manassas Campaign)
Index | Previous | Next
This symbol external link icon indicates an external link
All images and content are the property of eHistory at The Ohio State University unless otherwise stated.
Copyright © 2014 OSU Department of History. All rights reserved. [citation and copyright information]
eHistory icon