Beauregard at Pittsburg are confirmed. General [A.] Sidney Johnston was killed.
I will keep you advised daily.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON, D. C., April 10, 1862.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, Woodstock, Va.:
SIR: I would respectfully submit the following report as the result of my examination, made under your direction, for the selection of defensive positions in the Department of the Shenandoah:
Having examined with such care as was possible the actual ground or maps of the Shenandoah Valley, it is my conclusion that at present only two positions need to be occupied by defenses, viz, the hill north of Strasburg and the most eligible point northwest of Front Royal, for covering a depot and the bridges to be reconstructed.
The width of the valley between Strasburg and Mount Jackson prohibits a resort to defensive lines at any point by which, with means available, the valley could be securely closed.
The hill north of Strasburg has so effective a command over the roads, the railroad, and town, and would afford so much security to a depot of supplies, &c., at Strasburg, that I have staked out the lines of a field fort on it, and have indicated to Captain Mason and to Mr. Douglass (who is engaged to report to you for its construction) all the essentials for making it what is needed. By a peculiar arrangement of a grand traverse the command by the surrounding hills will be made mostly ineffective.
The position of Front Royal having been inaccessible, I can only indicate it in general terms as likely to have importance. I am advised by the Secretary of War that your department extends to the crest of the Blue Ridge; that the Manassas Railroad is being actively reconstructed, and that General McDowell's command is in advance of Warrenton. At an early day, therefore, it is expected that the railroad can be operated to Front Royal, and that force enough can be supplied to enable you to move from Front Royal down to Luray, &c., holding Chester Gap in conjunction with General McDowell. Should you succeed in disposing of General Jackson's force at Rude's Hill you will then be able safely to advance up the valley of the South Fork also, and by taking care to hold the several Blue Ridge gaps you could advance to Staunton and Waynesborough.
You will thus make a conversion of your front on to the Blue Ridge crest and clear the great valley of all except possible guerrilla operations. By this means you will place yourself in position to co-operate to the eastward if desirable, and in co-operation with General McDowell you will thus turn the enemy's line and open his rear to dangerous movements. Having your two lines of operations from Front Royal and Strasburg, you will be reasonably secure on these as base-line positions. As soon as the railroad can be made to bring your supplies to Timberville you will find the railroad from Alexandria to that point of immense assistance, and the cover it would receive from two defensible positions at Front Royal and Strasburg justify the labor of fortifying them.
5 R R-VOL XII, PT III