Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The enemy use the facilities furnishes for assembling their forces and making their preparations for their frequent raids into Virginia. To take it would be to break up their stronghold for this purpose. By taking that place we also break up the line of communication between the eastern and western forces of the enemy. We also destroy the trade of Wheeling, the market for whose manufactured and other products is Baltimore. In addition, we would control the navigation of the Ohio and Potomac Canal, and cut off Washington and Alexandria not only from their supply of coal, but also of hay, oats, and fodder for their horses, of which they are now particularly in need since the interruption to the navigation of the Potomac.
Again, the possession of Cumberland might be regarded as the initial step towards obtaining the mastery over the railroad between that point and Wheeling, whether for our own use or for purposes of destruction. I would further suggest that, supposing Cumberland in our hands, it would be the great rallying point of the secession citizens of Maryland, no so harass and oppressed, and here might be inaugurated the revolution destined to restore that gallant State to Liberty. At all events, in this view the moral effects would be most auspicious. Maryland would regard the event as an earnest of future aid, and it would spread hope and encouragement far and wide within her borders.
The troops now in Cumberland amount, I am informed, to a full regiment of the Home Guard and a company of cavalry of 180 men. They are part of the forces raise by the authority of the United States congress under the auspices of Ex-Governor Frank Thomas. The regiment, I know from personal observation, consist mostly of the very refuse of society, and is badly disciplined and officered. A sudden descent of a force of half their number would scatter them to the winds. Nothing could be easier then the surprise and capture of the place.
I am informed by competent engineers that it could be made defensible by but a small body of men.
C. H. McBLAIR,
Commander, C. S. Navy.
Abstract from return of the Army of the Potomac, General Joseph E. Johnston, C. S. Army, commanding, for the month of October, 1861.
Present for duty. .
Troops. Officers. Men. Officers. Men.
First 1,406 19,913 62 911
Second (G. 1,209 16,703 .......... ........
Cavalry ........... .......... 131 1,487
Artillery ........... .......... ........... ........
Total 2,615 36,616 193
Present for duty.
Troops. Officers. Men. Effective Aggregat
First 63 1,273 23,911 28,165
Second (G. 27 480 18,063 21,613
Cavalry ............ ......... 1,492 1,880
Artillery 39 663 663 777
Total 129 2,416 44,131 52,435