fight if it is too much outnumbered but, by retiring to North Carolina, will compel long lines of operations and exhaust us in enormous expenditures.
It seems to me that the army should move bodily up the Rappahannock, cross the river, aim for a point on the railroad between the rebels and Richmond,and send forward cavalry and light troops to break up the road and intercept retreat. Your divisions marching within supporting distance,and ordered to march to the sound of battle, would concentrate upon any field, and compel a general engagement. The result would be with the God of battles, in whose keeping we believe our cause to rest. Will we ever have a better opportunity? Do not we grow weaker every day? Can you not adopt this movement, which, if successful, promises the greatest results, and even if unsuccessful, leaves a practicable route of retreat? If any other movement promises greater or readier results, let it be adopted; but rest at Falmouth is death to our nation-is defeat, border warfare, hollow truce, barbarism, ruin for ages, chaos! To any plan you will find objections. Address yourself to the great work. Decide upon your plan and give your orders to each general to march by a certain road at a certain hour, and to expect that on his right or left such another will co-operate with him if he meets the enemy. Whatever advice they may give, you have no general in your army who will fail to march promptly on your order or the fight gallantly when brought face to face with the enemy.
The gallantry of the attack at Fredericksburg made amends for its ill success, and soldiers were not discouraged by it. The people, when they understood it, took heart again. But the slumber of the army since is eating into the vitals of the nation. As day after day has gone, my heart has sunk, and I see greater peril to our nationality in the present condition of affairs than I have seen at any time during the struggle.
Forgive me if I have written freely and strongly. I cannot express as strongly as I feel our danger, and I know that you, as I hope myself, have only one object-the success of our cause and salvation of our country.
Truly and respectfully, your friend,
M. C. MEIGS.
OFFICE OF PROVOST-MARSHALL-GENERAL,
Baltimore, December 30, 1862
(Received Headquarters Army, December 31.)
Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Army:
SIR: In view of the report that our army was about falling down the Rappahannock, I deem it proper to give you such information as I have received about the resources of the counties of Lancaster, Richmond, Northumberland, and Westmoreland.
The principal commission merchants here that I have called upon to state the resources of the above-named counties put them down at over 1,500,000 bushels of wheat and corn per year, and that but little has been sold from that section since the rebellion, either north or south.
It has been stated to me to-day that there must be at least 3,000,000 bushels of corn, wheat, rye, and oats, and a large quantity of straw and fodder now on hand. I am also informed that a very large stock of cordwood, ready for market, will be found in the aforesaid counties.