and open communication to a depot to be established at Harper's Ferry, and occupy the main avenue of supply to the enemy. My base will then be some seven miles nearer, more easily reached by road, and my line of communication rendered more secure than at present. I can establish communication with the Maryland shore by a bridge of boats. In this way I can more easily approach you, and the movement, I think, will tend to relieve Leesburg and vicinity of some of its oppressors. My present location is a very bad one in a military point of view, and from it I cannot move a portion of the force without exposing that of what remains to be cut off.
General Sanford informs me by letter that he has for me a letter from you. I hope it will inform me when you will put your column in motion against Manassas and when you wish me to strike. The enemy retired in succession from Darkesville and Bunker Hill to Stephenon's Station, a few mewls from Winchester. There he has halted, and report says is entrenching. His design evidently is to draw this force on as far as possible from the base, and then to cut my line or to attack with large re-enforcements from Manassas.
As I have already stated, I cannot advance far, and if I could I think the movement very imprudent. When you make your attack I expect to advance and offer battle. If the enemy retires I shall not pursue. I am very desirous to know when the General-in-Chief wishes me to approach Leesburg. If the notice not come in any other way, I wish you would indicate the day by telegraph, thus: "Let me hear of you on--."
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND,
Asst. Adjt. General, U. S. Army, Washington City.
HAGERSTOWN, MD., July 9, 1861.
I arrived here at 11 last night with the Fifth and Twelfth, being thirty hours in the cars. The artillery, two rifled guns, and two howitzers, will be here this afternoon. Have reported by special messenger to General Patterson. Stone arrived at Martinsburg yesterday afternoon.
C. W. SANDFORD.
Minutes of Council of War.
MARTINSBURG, July 9, 1861.
Colonel CROSMAN, quartermaster, thought 900 wagons be sufficient to furnish subsistence and to transport ammunition to our present force. The calculation for the original column was 700 wagons, of which 500 were on hand and 200 expected. The great difficulty will be to obtain forage for the animals, the present consumption being twenty-six tons daily.
Captain BECKWITH, commissary: The question of subsistence is here a question of transportation. Thus far no reliance has been placed on the adjacent country. A day's march ahead would compel a resort to it. As far as known, those supplies would be quite inadequate.