War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0280 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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tion against this oppression by the Confederate authorities reach us through loyal men residing on the other side of the river. By means of our boat bridge, which can be easily made available, in a few hours a sufficient force could be thrown across the river to afford this protection, or it could be withdrawn promptly or re-enforced should circumstances demand it.

Wishing the subject fully laid before the Department, and anxious to get authority, at least for the purposes above indicated, to establish communication with the opposite side, I sent my inspector-general to Washington to see the Secretary on the subject. He communicated the following:

WASHINGTON, April 30, 1862.

Major-General McDOWELL,

Commanding Department of the Rappahannock:

GENERAL: The Secretary of War has given me authority to inform you that you can occupy Fredericksburg with such force as in your judgment may be necessary to hold it for defensive purposes, but not with a view to make a forward movement.

H. VAN RENSSELAER,

Inspector-General, U. S. Army.

These communications show fully the position I was in at Fredericksburg and why I did not cross the river before April 30.

The Government was evidently apprehensive that I might, if not put under some restriction, place my force in a position where it could no longer accomplish the purpose for which it was kept from going to the Peninsula. As it was, alarm was expressed about the exposed position I had taken up, and I was urged by one of the most prominent men in the country to strengthen myself by fortifications. I did not do so, because I wished the enemy to believe I was strong and about to march upon him. I did what I could to give the impression I was in large force, and I think I succeeded. In fact I have good reason for believing that the apprehension thus created at Richmond of danger of a large force coming down from Fredericksburg whilst their army was at Yorktown was one of the principal causes for their evacuating their strong works at that place without siege.

Every effort was made by me and my officers and men to get the bridges and transportation nearly ready. I had been assured that as soon as I could do so, and as soon as a sufficient force could be collected, I would receive permission to advance.

A reference to General Haupt's and Major Tillson's evidence, of December 6, will show that I gave my personal attention to this subject, and so far from idling away my time on the Rappahannock, either personally or with my troops, that all were actively engaged in making the preparations necessary to enable me to advance.

When I went to Washington it was because I was summoned there by my superiors. I never went there once for mere personal purposes. Washington and the District were, moreover, part of my command.

The enemy in abandoning the Potomac had as far as possible destroyed the railroad from Aquia; had burned the wharf and the long wooden pier connecting it with the land; had taken up the rails for 3 miles, burnt the cross-ties, and destroyed the large bridges over the Accokeek, Potomac Creek, and the Rappahannock, and was prepared to destroy the one over the Massaponax.

When we reached Fredericksburg the roads between it and the Potomac were still bad, and the damage at Aquia was so great that a temporary depot and landing had to be made at Belle Plain.

Every means within my reach was employed to repair all this. The principal part of the work was done by the troops, aided by such colored