War of the Rebellion: Serial 018 Page 0418 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

instead of helping matters, but I shall wait anxiously for the next news from you, in the hope that you may have so good success that it will compensate for the disappointment in other respects or incidentally help the other plan. It is now too late to arrange any, even partial, movement from here to co-operate with yours, as to-morrow morning is the time you have fixed for reaching Salt Sulphur.

You will appreciate the absolute necessity for combination to insure success in reaching the railroad when you reflect that the impassable ridges of the East River and Wolf Creek Mountains are broken in only two places for an extent of 40 miles across my front, viz, at the Narrows and at Rocky Gap. These defiles are each about 2 miles in length and only wide enough to admit a roadway, the sides being quite precipitous. Both are strengthened by fortifications and held by garrisons, which ought to be able to keep back several times their own number. To turn this range by the easier roads on your side the New River was one of the plans I suggested, and to aid in which, if necessary, I have made a ferry at Pack's old ferry, which I am still enlarging. Another plan partly suggested also was to time a movement on this side with one on yours, so that either the pass at the Narrows might be attacked from both sides of the river and forced, or, if the troops at Rocky Gap were carried in that direction by the demonstration made, to occupy the latter pass and push onward. In either event the reaching of the railroad would be the chief aim, and preparation for nearly two weeks' continuous work away from our communications would be necessary.

The latest news from both North Virginia and Tennessee have indicated that in a short time to come forces pushing toward this center from both directions would so occupy the attention of the enemy as to give a better opportunity than at present, and for this I desired both portions of the division to be as thoroughly prepared as possible. Should your present movement meet with decided success I shall most heartily rejoice, but my fear is that it will prove premature. I am sincerely desirous to see you have the opportunity to win all the glory you can wish, and especially to have you win the promotion which will make your present command a permanent one. I believe this can be most certainly done by giving your energetic aid in accomplishing the result desired by the department commander indicated above rather than by independent and unconnected movements.

Crippled as we are for want of adequate transportation, we will be forced to watch our opportunities, and by a careful co-operation of the whole division endeavor to secure the results which we shall otherwise fail of entirely. Please keep these things in view in future action. As soon as I hear the result of your present expedition I will try to arrange for further action.

Your dispatch does not inform me whether you are prepared for more than two or three days' march, and this lack of knowledge makes it impossible to know whether any movement here within a day or two would have any effect in aiding yours. I send, however, a party to the front to-morrow to make a diversion, and so may prevent a concentration on the other side of New River. I greatly regret I have not time to do more.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. D. COX,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.