War of the Rebellion: Serial 007 Page 0902 OPERATIONS IN KY., TENN., N.ALA., AND S.W.VA. Chapter XVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

ing to us but a front exposure, with to him available lines of transportation in rear, both of railroad and navigable waters, extending to his sources of supply of all war material, a soldier will not fail to appreciate a position presenting but a front exposure to his enemy. Besides all this, does not the enemy's possession of the field in question bring him almost upon our States of sparse white and dense black population, and perhaps to some extent even threaten the rear of our army on the Potomac?

These views, it seems to me, will warrant the assertion that our immediate possession of the field in question is to us a military necessity.

I believe if we have one distinctly peculiar advantage in this war it is position; that is to say (the affirmative of the war being with the enemy), the power of making him attack us in such positions as we may select. If the enemy has one advantage peculiar, and I acknowledge it a great one, it is the inequality of results of battle between us. If we beat him, while his facilities of trade with he arms markets of the world exist, and his own to manufacture them, results to us are limited to the destruction of an army. but if he bear us, we lose what we can worse spare than an army-arms. It was, perhaps, in substance the application of these two propositions which gave us the victory at Manassas, and prevented our hazarding pursuit of the foe across the Potomac. Deeply impressed with these views of our elation to the enemy (acknowledging exceptions to the rule), I have felt it was our general policy in this war to prudently avoid unnecessary hazards, and in the main compel him to yield us the advantage of position in engagements; but I do not realize that a vigorous, even an attacking, resistance for the rescue and possession of the field in question and adopted speedily as possible, will at all violate the rule of policy stated. If it be with us a necessity to repossess these sections, and we allow the enemy to hold them until he can intrench or even examine the country sufficiently to establish for himself the best line of defense, when we shall undertake to drive him will we not find our peculiar advantage-position-has been transferred to him without diminishing his peculiar one, the inequality of the results of battle?

What, then, is our capacity and true policy? I believe 50,000 troops can be promptly concentrated in Tennessee without seriously risking any other position at all equaling this in importance and that it should be done. There, from the nature of their probably attacking duties, should be, if practicable, our best troops; for, taking it that courage is common to all our army, raw troops will more nearly equal the efficiency of trained ones in defending entrenched positions than in general field service and active operations. With this number of such troops the enemy may be resisted, harassed, or even under favorable circumstances attacked in main force, though his numbers double ours; for it is not certain, and is even greatly to be doubted, if there is amongst their generals the ability to combine and use in battle more than with this number we might oppose to them. Suppose them to have double our numbers, and yet their commander be unable to make available a larger number than we oppose to them. Suppose them to have double our numbers, and yet their commander be unable to make available a larger number than we oppose to him, may not his surplus become a military fungus, in that while it cannot be appropriated against, it yet may be panic-stricken or stampeded by us? On full consideration, may it not be, when armies too large to be conveniently wielded are brought in conflict, when armies too large to be conveniently wielded are brought in conflict, that the chance of victory are in favor of the lesser one, especially if it have advantage in spirit, training, or in being better commanded.

The advantages to us in the general economy and those of greater