Now, permit me a few remarks on the strategical operations in this campaign. A great blunder was committed by not uniting the two corps of Generals Fremont and Shields. Divided commands will in almost every instance lead to disaster. While Fremont and Shields united might have driven the enemy into the river, Shields was defeated, and it is owing only to the extreme vigor of Fremont's attack that he did not meet a similar fate. If we had been attacked at Harrisonburg night before last, our army decimated by deaths, sickness, fatigue, and exhaustion, the result could hardly have been doubtful. We must hold the valley of Virginia, and in holding it we hold Western Virginia at the same time. It is much easier to take Staunton and to cut the railroad in this way than by operating in the mountains. The guerrilla warfare in the mountains is of no consequence, but in here we must have the necessary means. The see-saw business, as it has been going on here for some time, is destroying our armies and wearing out the patience of our people for no purpose whatever. Jackson's army must be annihilated, and that done we can easily branch off into Eastern Tennessee and clear that country of the enemy. But for this it is indispensably necessary that we should have a strong force here which can always act on the offensive.
While I am writhing I learn that General Banks is going to Front Royal, and it is reported that Jackson has reoccupied Harrisonburg. If the should try he might easily succeed in forcing Banks back and then turn against us. The two armies are so far apart that they cannot aid each other nor fall back one upon the other on a day of battle.
If there are any personal considerations at the bottom of these arrangements I pray you let them be dropped, and also, if theirs is possible, let the generals commanding armies know the general plan upon which these movements of troops are based. It is frequently the case that the communication between the different armies is interrupted, as for instance when Shields was attacked and beaten by Jackson, and then it depends entirely on accident whether they learn of each other's movements or not. Hence many blunders and misunderstandings.
This morning I found General Fremont in a somewhat irritated state of mind, and I must confess I understand it. The Government has plenty of provisions, and our soldiers die of hunger; plenty of shoes, and they go barefooted; plenty of horses, and we are hardly able to move. I would entreat you let it not be said that this army is more neglected than any other. It would appear that it is willfully so, and you know well how this will be interpreted. The task this army has before it is an important one, and it ought to have the means to fulfill it.
There are many things in the management of thinks here which I have not been able to observe closely enough to give a fair and reliable opinion; but I pray you to give orders providing for the wants of the army. If we could have another battery of howitzers so much the better. As a general thing we have plenty of artillery, but in howitzers, which are particularly important in this mountainous country, we are deficient.
As ever, faithfully, yours,