War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 1106 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.

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to southwest entirely across the State officers many points admirably calculated for defense, where comparatively small numbers can stop and hold in check very superior forces. These passes, not very numerous, should, in my opinion, be occupied and entrenched. With three of these points entrenched. all the country extending from the northern boundary of Raleigh westward to the county of Wise, and from this line eastward to the railroad, would be entirely secure from attack, unless from a very large and thoroughly appointed army. The line thus defended would be 120 miles in extent, and would not require more than 6,000 men to hold it.

These points I have already indicated to the committee, and for this and for other reasons, readily understood, I forbear to mention them. The enemy are far more numerous than we, and, therefore, we must equalize our forces whenever it is practicable, by proper fortifications, at points not liable to turned. Such are the points I speak of. These entrenchments would have another important result. Behind them could be collected all the population capable of using fire-arms, and within reach of the works whenever the advance of the enemy threatened collision. The dexterity with which all our people use fire-arms is so great that, behind entrenchments, the rawest troops are equal to army veterans equal to army veterans in repelling an assault. The committee will understand that these opinions and suggestions rest upon the supposition that an adequate force to retake the Kanawha Valley and Northwestern Virginia is not for the present to be put into the field, but that the whole effect will be to prevent any further advance of the invading force. Between the plan of holding the enemy at bay fortifying these passes, and that of moving upon them with sufficient force to drive them from the State, there can be no comparison. If we held all our territory to the Ohio River, with even slight additions to the local force of the country, it would be next to impossible for the enemy to penetrate very far into our territories with an invading army. Such is the peculiar topography of that region that, in advancing to the interior by any one of the numerous valleys leading from the Ohio to the Cumberland range of mountains, the enemy would necessarily be exposed to incessant attacks upon his flank, and be liable at any time to lose his supply trains. Nothing could be more difficult than to concentrate sufficient strength to defend them along the extended and rugged defiles through which they would be compelled to move. At the same time the long extent of river line held by us would render it easy to send across formidable detachments into Ohio to ravage and desolate the country, as they have done ours, and to make them feel at their on hearth-stones the calamities of war.

An inspection of the map will exhibit at once the great advantages which, geographically, we possess from our position while the smooth surface on the Ohio side, making it easy to travel into the county in every direction; the rugged nature of our interior rendering pursuit next to impossible, constitute Western Virginia invaluable to us, both for means of defense and attack. I regard the immediate occupation of all Western Virginia by a perfectly adequate and well-appointed force of vital importance to the whole Confederacy. With such a force there,the enemy would be compelled to concentrate upon their own soil one of their powerful armies now beleaguering the coast of the Atlantic and the Mississippi, for otherwise their communications between the Northwest and the Atlantic would be seriously endangered. It would not be difficult, with an enterprising leader, to endanger all the railroad connections between the Atlantic and Ohio if we had a commanding force as a base of operations on our side of the Ohio River. The country