War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0702 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

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Memphis is likely to precede the fall of Richmond, and, if so, it will have a decisive effect upon that result.

The Southern Government is a military oligarchy. The head of this oligarchy is in Richmond, and when the head falls a Union sentiment will be found to burst forth in the South, which will soon entomb the body of this foul conspiracy.

These considerations are very general, and from want of accurate information of the position and strength of the enemy and of the exact nature of the country are necessarily defensive; but as a sketch of a general plan I beg leave most respectfully to submit it to your practiced judgment. It is substantially your own plan, as I understood you the other day; and permit me to add, respectfully, that if you intrust me with a prominent part in the execution of this plan and take upon yourself the direction and superintendence of the combined movements in the field, I will pledge my poor reputation, past and present, for its successful issue.

With sentiments of personal regard and most profound respect, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

JAS. SHIELDS.

PATTERSON'S CREEK, January 16, 1864.

General McCLELLAN:

GENERAL: I have the honor to reply to your inquiries.*

When by request, October 25, I gave my view to General Scott on the subject of protecting the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, I recommended the occupation of Romney by Kelly, he to be immediately re-enforced, but beyond holding the point to break up guerrilla parties I did not propose a strong demonstration here. A column was to cross at Haper's Ferry and occupy Loudoun Heights; thence a force to move on Martinsburg and Bath, or farther south, if circumstances justified even the holding the country west of the Shenandoah; Kelley then to advance, leaving a guard on the railroad as he came on. A strong demonstration was to be from the rebel army by interposing a heavy column along the Blue Mountains and holding the passes. Matters having been postponed, the enemy now hold the Blue Mountain passes, and have a railroad from Winchester to Strasburg, with Jackson's command at Bloomery Gap and near Romney, for the rebel force at Romney now numbers 2,500 men. It is evident that scattered guards along railroad will not protect all troops brought out from the west.

Strengthen the Army of the Potomac, and troops bought up from the west can be placed along railroad here as it is open, perhaps prior to being so placed to be massed and a blow given to Jackson; in short, and attack made to take Shenandoah Valley from the enemy. My camp here is so placed that while I hold a peninsula, resting each flank on unfordable rivers, the whole line can be raised and take cars at short notice. I have half Jackson's force, and cannot do much as to guarding the road unless re-enforce. When able to leave road guarded in my rear, I propose to advance to Big Cacapon, on the Virginia side, and cover General Williams' crossing. I am having boats built for him in Cumberland, and if I am strongly re-enforced from Ohio at once I have no doubt of effecting a junction with Banks south of Potomac. He need not cross till the Virginia side is secure by me. The presence of

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*Not found.

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