HDQRS. GENERAL BANKS' DIVISION,.
Frederick City, Md., January 5, 1862.
1. The Forty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers will march as early as practicable to-morrow morning, January 6, for Williamsport, Md., carrying with it all its camp and garrison equipage, with two days' rations in haversacks..
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2. The Third Brigade, Colonel D. Donnelly commanding, will march immediately for Hancock, and report to Brigadier-General Lander at that place as soon as possible..
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By command of Major-General Banks:.
R. MORRIS COPELAND,.
HEADQUARTERS OF DIVISION,.
Frederick, Md., January 7, 1862.
Brigadier General R. B. MARCY, Chief of Staff, &c.:
SIR: It would not have occurred to me to have transmitted in extensor all the dispatches of General Lander from Hancock had he not requested it, nor should I have suggested to the Commanding General the idea of writing upon affairs at Hancock had I anticipated the instructions which passed through the office to-day..
I have not thought it my duty to encourage General Lander's views in regard to our crossing the river. Had the event indicated in my instructions occurred, to wit, the passage of the Potomac by the enemy, the call would have been more imperative and reasonable; but we have thought from the first that he had no such purpose. All the features of the affair at Hancock resemble closely that at Williamsport when the attempt was made to destroy the dam, and seemed to be a cover for an attack upon the railway between Cumberland and Hancock..
Unless the enemy had crossed the river, any attempt to intercept and cut him by our crossing would have been unsuccessful. From Bath to Winchester is but 30 miles, directly south, while the distance from our camp to any possible point of interception via Harper's Ferry or Shepherdstown would have been more than double the distance, with a difficult river to cross and recross, for which we had no adequate material. It would have resulted in almost certain failure to cut off the enemy, and brought an exhausted force into his presence to fight him in his strongholds at Winchester. In either case it promised no positive prospect of success, nor did it exclude large chances of disaster. Every intelligent officer here familiar with the plans of the enemy and the features of the country confirmed this view of his ultimate purpose and the probable results of a forced passage of the river as suggested..
I beg the Commanding General to believe that my division will face any possible danger cheerfully and manfully which our position will face any possible danger cheerfully and manfully which our position demands, but I hesitate to put my command, without orders, upon a forced march for one purpose, without any certainty of succeeds, when I know that without any agency of our own, and be the natural course of events, it may be changed to another fruitful disaster. Such was the course of events at Ball's Bluff. It began in a reconnaissance and ended in a battle, for which our friends were not prepared. And such I feared might be the case should we suddenly cross the river to cut off the re-