HEADQUARTERS MOUNTAIN DEPARTMENT,
Wheeling, Va., April 21, 1862.
To His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President of the United States:
SIR: In answer to aa telegram from the Secretary of War, desiring me to submit to the President my proposed plan of operations for the occupation of Knoxville, I beg leave to state that my first intention was, after guarding the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the loyal inhabitants of the department with a force of about 10,000, to transport 25,000 men by railroad and the ohio to Maysville, Covington, and Lousville, Ky.; thence, partly by rail and partly by turnpike, to Nicholasville, and from that point march directly upon knoxville, turning the enemy's position at cumberland Gap. The difficulties, however, in the way of obtaining the requisite number of troops have led to a change of my plan, which is as follows;
The first base of operations being the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the division of General Blenkere, which, from the best information I can obtain, numbers about 9,000 men, will take position at moorefield. At this point or at Franklin it will unite with the troops now under command of General Schenck, numbering about 3,000. With these, acting in conjunction with General Banks, I propose to move up the valley of Virginia by a course which you will see on the accompanying map, over roads which are as dry and as good at all seasons of the year as any in Virginia, and through a country where forage is easily obtained. At Monterey I shall be joined by the troops under General Milroy, numbering 3,500 effective men, and can then strike the railroad at or near Salem, while General Cox with his 7,000 men takes possession of newborn or can first effect a junction with General Cox, and seize the railroad with a force thus increased to about 22,000.
The base of operations will then be changed to Galley. To this place, by the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, abundant supplies for the army can be transported with the means now on hand and being prepared. Having thus destroyed the connection between Knoxville and the army in Eastern Virginia, and perhaps seized some rolling stock, we can advance rapidly along the railroad toward Knoxville, turning the position as Cumberland Gap. The forces now under General Kelley and the Virginia troops will be left as we proceed to guard the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and to protect the loyal inhabitants of the State from guerrillas. The latter is to be effected by the establish men of a few posts strongly held, from which sudden and frequent attacks can be made upon any organizations existing or forming gin the department. Knoxville taken, a third base of operations can be made upon Nicholasville, from which place supplies can be easily obtained and transported over level and good roads. The army will thus be in a position to co-operate in any way in the general plan of operations for the prosecution of the war.
The original plan above mentioned possesses the advantages of rapidity in execution, the throwing us forward immediately into the heart of the enemy's country, the striking of the enemy's railroad in the first instance at the most important point, and a base of operations in friendly country, through which provisions can be drawn with comparative safety. The second has been suggested only because it enables us to collect the troops now scattered throughout the department, and thus increase the small force sent.
J. C. FREMONT,
The proposed plan of operations up the valley of Virginia wa approved by the President and Secretary of War, but, as subsequently indicated in telegrams from the War Department, it was adopted in view of the ultimate closing in of my columns toward Richmond, rather than Knoxville.*
On the 3rd of May I move with my staff to New Creek, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, my proposed depot of main supply for operations in the field. On the 4th of May I was apprised by the Secretary of War of the evacuation of Yorktown by the rebel forces. Foreseeing by this event and the release of so large a body in the east that the enemy would be enabled to augment westwardly his force along my front, I judged it desirable to get forward and concentrate at an early moment my strongest available supports. Leaving New
*Copy of Fremont's letter and of the instructions given him were furnished to McDowell by the Secretary of War, under date of April 25, 1862.