which, in any other war than ours, would be considered as of importance. I have called Colonel Ingalls' attention once or twice to the relief to our Treasury which, I thought, might be gained by foraging in the country between the Potomac and Rappahannock and below Fredericksburg. I understand that a portion of this territory has been drawn up to some extent, but I was told that it was not altogether safe; that we had lost some small parties, either by guerrillas, armed inhabitants, or by troops which has crossed the Rappahannock to make raids.
In looking at the map last night, and thinking how little rebel territory we had really repossessed and made available for our own use, I was impressed with the fact that in this peninsula, commanded at its narrowest part by your army and whose whole coast is under command of our fleet, there are over 800 square miles of territory. These lowlands of Virginia are, I believe, generally fertile, and pretty well settled and cultivated. Now, here is a territory of greater extent than provinces for the possession of which European nations have waged long wars. Is it not worth while to occupy it, to deprive the rebels of its resources, in produce, in taxes, in conscripts, in recruits, in information? Could not a small column have restored the authority of the Union over this land; enabled the Government to give effect to its confiscation and sequestration acts; cut of from the rebels valuable supplies, and draw from loyal owners by payment, and from rebels by seizure,and receipts payable after the war, on proof of loyal conduct from their date, large supplies of grain, of forage, of tobacco, of cattle, and of horses, for the support of our army?
It seems to me that a small column, moving through the country, occupying and intrenching posts at the principal points where the communications meet, as the court-houses, &c., taking possession of the country and its records, would have given these people proof that the Union has still force and government, and thus have kept alive or revived any loyal feeling, and discouraged, perhaps driven out, those who are disloyal and incorrigible. At any rate, it would be better for our Treasury that we should have the product of these 800 square miles, which now have no market or outlet, except by smuggling them through the rebel lines, than that the rebel army should get them. The surplus left in this country will certainly feed either the rebel or the loyal army.
Were the support of only 10,000 men and their animals transferred from our Treasury to the rebel people and lands, it would be an important economy. There are landings on the Potomac and Rappahannock from which the products of this peninsula have heretofore been shipped. Our transports could be sent there to receive the collections of foraging parties. The able-bodied negroes, free by the President's proclamation, would gladly assist in the work, and we could acquire much, while there would be cut off from the resources of rebellion the five counties of King George, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland, all of which are at your mercy, and which contained, in 1860, 34, 391 persons, of whom 15,318 were white and 19,073 were colored. More than one half of the total population is, therefore, loyal, and looks for delivery and protection to our Government. Stafford County, which you occupy, had 4,922 white and 3,633 colored persons in 1860. The total population, therefore, in the six counties was about 43,000. The density of population, therefore, in the six counties was about 43,000. The density of population was 43 to the square mile. In this country must be many supplies and it would, it seems to me, be well to deprive the disloyal of the arms which they can use as guerrillas or contribute to the rebels as well as of the supplies, certain in the end, if not prevented by us, to take the same course.