HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
Warrenton, Va., November 7,* 1862.
General G. W. CULLUM,
Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: In accordance with the order of the General-in-Chief of the 5th instant, I have the honor to make the following report of the movements proposed for this army:
To concentrate all the forces near this place, and impress upon the enemy a belief that we are to attack Culpeper or Gordonsville, and at the same time accumulate a four or five days' supply for the men and animals; then make a rapid move of the whole force to Fredericksburg, with a view to a movement upon Richmond from that point. The following are my reasons for deciding upon this plan:
If we move upon Culpeper and Gordonsville, a fight there and a general engagement, even with results in our favor, the enemy will have many lines of retreat for his defeated army, and will, inn all likelihood, be able to reach Richmond with enough of his force to render it necessary to fight another battle at that place; and should he leave even one corps, with cavalry, on our right flank, it would render the pursuit very precarious, owing to the great lack of supplies in this country, and the liability to an interruption of our communication with Washington. Should the enemy retreat in the direction of Richmond upon our approach to Culpeper and Gordonsville, we would simply follow a retreating army, well supplied with provisions at least, at depots in his rear, whilst this army would have to rely upon a long line of communication for its supplies, and, as in the other case, a small portion of the enemy's force on our flank might tend to interrupt our communications. It may be well to add here, while on the subject of interrupted communication, that the enemy's sources for gaining information are far superior to our own. The General-in-Chief will readily understand the reason. The difference is more than usual in their favor at present, from the fact that nearly all the negroes are being run south and kept under strict guard.
Should the enemy retreat before us in the direction of Staunton and Lynchburg, the same difficulty would follow, with the certainty that he would also have a small portion of his force on our left flank. In moving by way of Fredericksburg there is no point up to the time when we should reach that place at which we will not be nearer to Washington than the enemy, and we will all the time be on the shortest route to Richmond, the taking of which, I think, should be the great object of the campaign, as the fall of that place would tend more to cripple the rebel cause than almost any other military event, except the absolute breaking up of their army. The presence of a large army on the Fredericksburg line would render it almost impossible for the enemy to make a successful move upon Washington by any road on this side of the Potomac, and I take it that there are forces enough at Washington and on the line of the Potomac, connected with the fortifications about Washington, to repulse any movement of the enemy on the capital, by way of the Upper Potomac; and it is hardly probable that he would attempt any serious invasion of Pennsylvania at this season of the year, and even if he should make a lodgment in that State of any force that he can spare, the destruction of that force would be the result very soon after winter set in, and the destruction of property by him would be small in comparison with the other expenses of the war. Could the army before Richmond be beaten,
*The original so dated. It was on the 9th. See Burnside to Halleck, p. 555.