Washington, December 9, 1862.
Major-General COX, Charleston, W. Va.:
Brigadier-General KELLEY, Cumberland, Md.:
Forces should be placed at Romney and along the South Branch of the Potomac, against guerrillas raids. The remainder of the available troops in that part of Western Virginia should be thrown forward, so as to threaten the valley of the Shenandoah and cover Harper's Ferry. State the number you require to cover the South Branch, and also with what force, and what points you propose to occupy to cover Harper's Ferry and threaten the Shenandoah. Give your views on this subject.
H. W. HALLECK,
HEADQUARTERS RAILROAD DIVISION,
Cumberland, Md., December 9, 1862.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: In response to your request by telegram of to-day for my views relating to the disposition of troops at certain points, I have the honor to inclose you copy of letter addressed by me to General McClellan a few days after I took Romney, in October of last year.* It explains my views in regard to the importance of holding Romney and affording protection to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The reopening and protection of this road I deem of vital importance to the Government and to the people. The citizens of Maryland and Western Virginia, indeed, of all the Wester States, are extremely anxious that the road may be opened for trade and travel. Should Harper's Ferry be assailed and require support for the forces stationed in this region, the needed re-enforcements might go down either by rail, through Martinsburg, or by turnpike, through Romney and Winchester. Besides, thousands of tons of coal are now ready for shipment from this point to the Eastern market, where it is wanted for the Government vessels,as well as by manufacturers and citizens.
Will you pardon me for suggesting that, in my judgment, the best plan to protect the railroad is to occupy Romney, Winchester, and Lessburg with a force sufficient to repel the rebels in any proposed advance against the line of road? Of course, I do not propose or suggest the abandonment of Harper's Ferry.
I am further of opinion that if Martinsburg were occupied by General Kenly's troops, now at Williamsport, the road can be opened in a few days and fully protected.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. F. KELLEY,
CUMBERLAND, MD., December 9, 1862.
Your telegram received. One of General Thomas' [?] (either Cox, Crook, or Scammon) brigades left New Creek for Petersburg, in Hardy County,
*See Series I, Vol. V,p.644.