Should it prove that the North Fork from Rude's Hill to Timberville and Turley Town is somewhat defensible, a depot with covering defenses and a bridge-head may be needful. It is, however, my opinion that before this question fully arises the general clearing of the great valley may be so far effected as to convert our defensive efforts to the Blue Ridge, crest-line, merely retaining the North Fork line as a valuable secondary route. So soon as you are free to move eastward, either through Chester Gap or Thornton's Gap, you escape from that isolation which is now so oppressive and so liable to end in your being excluded from the great contest to the east of your position, when you can throw your front forward to include Luray and New Market. General McDowell can doubtless hold Washington in connection. This will at once enable you effectively to combine for such movements against Fairfax [Culpeper Court-House], Gordonsville, Charlottesville, &c., as the case may call for. Hence your successful advance seems to me to open great opportunities, which, well used, will make Richmond itself apprehensive.
I have ventured thus to state the ulterior advantages which may be said to rest on Strasburg and especially on Front Royal as bases, believing that from your kind and respectful consideration, which I wish gratefully to acknowledge, I need fear no misconstruction of exceeding my duty.
Conceiving as I do that you should have force sufficient promptly to clear the great valley and establish easy co-operation with General McDowell, I lay less stress on local defenses than on active movement, and can only propose defenses for the chief points in the railroad's base line.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
E. B. HUNT,
Captain of Engineers.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR, Washington, D. C., April 11, 1862-9.36 a. m.
Commanding Department of the Rappahannock, Hdqrs. Manassas:
SIR: For the present and until further orders from this Department, you will consider the national capital as especially under your protection, and make no movement throwing your force out of position for the discharge of this primary duty.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
CATLETT'S, April 11, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
The order for the transfer of Franklin's division to Fort Monroe is received. He leaves this evening for Alexandria.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, April 11, 1862.
Major-General BANKS, Woodstock:
Where is Blenker, and what are his orders? Please answer immediately. There is no news to-day. Nothing doing at Yorktown, on account