War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0930 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

Hence you must endeavor to ascertain what the enemy is about on the other side of the Potomac, and should Banks have moved as above stated, you will act as directed by General Johnston, taking up a new position, either to hold in check the enemy's forces you may have in front or to join us at a moment's notice. I suppose in rear of Ball's and Carter's Mills, on Goose Creek, would be the best ones; then Gum Spring or Sundley Spring and Church, according to circumstances and the movements of the enemy.

It would be well from you to dispose of all the heavy baggage of your troops, which can be sent to Manassas in wagons pressed into service for that special object, with a guard of three men from each company and a proper number of non-commissioned and commissioned officers.

You must see to the constant proper supply of provisions, &c., for your whole command, keeping the latter always prepared to move at a moment's notice, without, however, harassing or alarming the officers and men, who must understand that those precautions are necessary for our future strategic operations.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,.


General, Commanding..

RICHMOND, October 31, 1861.

Major General EARL VAN DORN, Army of the Potomac:

SIR: In the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac your command of the First Division was intended by the President to be compose of all the cavalry, two brigades of Mississippians, and Hampton's Legion. The infantry was attached to the cavalry, because e had not enough cavalry to form for you a division. General Johnston, the commander of the Department of Northern Virginia, has suggested some objections to this disposal of the cavalry which seem to us well founded, and has proposed that additional brigade of infantry be assigned to your division, leaving the cavalry under his immediate separate command. Before, however, making any change the President will receive your views on the matter and consider them. The objections made by General Johnston, and to which the President is disposed to attack great weight, are:

That all the cavalry of the army is now employed on outpost duty. The officer at the head of that service (Brigadier-General Stuart) should be under the immediate orders of the commander of the army, and make his reports to and receive his instructions from him. In like manner, in battle, the commanding general must keep under his own control the largest portion of the cavalry, so that General Van Dorn's division would actually become the weakest in the army, although he is the senior major-general, with high reputation.

In addition to this is the consideration that your rank would entitle you to the right wing, and in any battle that may occur in the neighborhood of the present position of the army the ground to the right is unfavorable for cavalry, which would of necessity be thrown to the center or to the left, thus separating you from either the cavalry or the infantry of your division during actual conflict. The President is therefore inclined to increase your division, by the assignment of other infantry brigades, to its due strength in proportion to your rank, and to leave the cavalry as a separate command.

By good enough to answer me as promptly as possible.

Your obedient servant,.


Acting Secretary of War. .