boats, which, for good and sufficient reasons, no doubt, has not yet been done, but probably will be. He is desirous of moving the columns in as compact order as possible, and keeping them in easy supporting distance of each other, taking with them, if possible, a sufficiency of small stores and beef-cattle to last until a decisive blow can be struck. These are mere suggestions for your consideration until the general meets, you and he will be glad to receive any criticism on them.
Had the pontoon train arrived in time, the whole of General Sumner's command would have been over the river by this time, in all probability. This delay was not doubt unavoidable. He has just learned from the Quartermaster-General that a large number of pontoons are afloat at Aquia Creek, and wagons have been sent for a sufficient number to build a bridge.
The general hopes to inform you of the result of the reconnaissance of the United States Ford to-day. He desires me to say that he can readily understand your anxiety for quick movement, and thanks you for it.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNumbers G. PARKE,
Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
December 6, 1862-10.30 a.m.
GENERAL: All the troops sent thus far to Liverpool Point will have crossed the river by to-night. One of the brigades was left on the railroad to relieve an old brigade of General Reynolds' corps; the other two will join General Sumner's. I propose now to make an attempt to cross the river with the main body of the force at the place designated to you when I was in Washington, leaving a column to make a feint at the upper crossing, and, if found advisable, to make an actual crossing.
We have nearly supplies enough to warrant us in beginning the move, and I hope by the time the snow is off the ground and the roads are settled that we will have an abundance of everything. The roads are now in a very bad condition, but if it should continue fair until Monday or Tuesday, I think we can attempt the crossing.
Arrangements are nearly completed, and the troops are being placed in positions to render the approaches to the crossing as easy as possible. I propose to order General Sigel to Wolf Run Shoals and its neighborhood, with outposts well in his front and on his right flank. I also propose to order all the available forces on the Upper Potomac to proceed to join General Sigel, by the way of White Plains and New Baltimore, holding Warrenton, Rappahannock Station, and Kelly's Ford for the present, with a view to following us in case of success on our part. A portion of the forces on the Upper Potomac, which will consist of Kenly's, Kelley's and Milroy's, should, I think, occupy Winchester, with a view to moving down in the direction of Staunton, if it should be found advisable.
Should this correspond with your views, please indicate it by telegraph, and I will issue the necessary orders. It may become necessary in the course of the movement to change the places of crossing, in which case I will indicate to you by telegraph.
A. E. BURNSIDE,
Major-General, Commanding Army of the Potomac.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.