dent, through his General-in-Chief, to cross the Potomac and give battle to the enemy, or drive him south. Two lines were presented for my choice:
1st. Up the Valley of the Shenandoah, in which case I was to have 12,000 to 15,000 additional troops.
2d. To cross between the enemy and Washington - that is, east of the Blue Ridge - in which event I was to be re-enforced with 30,000 men.
At first I determined to adopt the line of the Shenandoah, for these reasons: The Harper's Ferry and Winchester Railroad and the various turnpikes converging upon Winchester afforded superior facilities for supplies. Our cavalry being weak, this line of communication could be more easily protected. There was no advantage in interposing at that time the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah between the enemy and myself.
At the period in question the Potomac was still very low, and I apprehended that, if I crossed the river below Harper's Ferry, the enemy would promptly check the movement by recrossing into Maryland, at the same time covering his rear by occupying in strong force the passes leading through the Blue Ridge from the southeast into the Shenandoah Valley. I anticipated, as the result of the first course, that Lee would fight me near Winchester, if he could do so under favorable circumstances, or else that he would abandon the Lower Shenandoah and leave the Army of the Potomac free to act upon some other line of operations. If he abandoned the Shenandoah, he would naturally fall back upon his railway communications. I have since been confirmed in the belief that if I had crossed the Potomac below Harper's Ferry in the early part of October, General Lee would have recrossed into Maryland.
As above explained, the army was not in condition to move until late in October, and in the mean time circumstances had changed. The period had arrived when a sudden and great rise of the Potomac might be looked for at any moment; the season of bad roads and difficult movements was approaching, which would naturally deter the enemy from exposing himself very far from his base, and his movements all appeared to indicate a falling back from the river toward his supplies. Under these circumstances, I felt at liberty to disregard the possibility of the enemy's recrossing the Potomac, and determined to select the line east of the Blue Ridge, feeling convinced that it would secure me the largest accession of force and the most cordial support of the President, whose views from the beginning were in favor of that line.
The subject of the defense of the line of the Upper Potomac, after the advance of the main army, had long occupied my attention. I desired to place Harper's Ferry and its dependencies in a strong state of defense, and frequently addressed the General-in-Chief upon the subject of the erection of field works and permanent bridges there, asking for the funds necessary to accomplish the purpose. Although I did my best to explain, as clearly as I was able, that I did not wish to erect permanent works of masonry, and that neither the works nor the permanent bridges had any reference to the advance of the army, but solely to the permanent occupation of Harper's Ferry, I could never make the General-in-Chief understand my wishes, but was refused the funds necessary to erect the field-works, on the ground that there was no appropriation for the erection of permanent fortifications, and was not allowed to build the permanent bridge on the ground that the main army could not be delayed in its movements until its completion. Of course I never thought of delaying the advance of the army for that purpose, and so