War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 1117 APPENDIX.

Search Civil War Official Records

Embracing documents received too late for insertion in proper sequence



November 27, 1862.

Brigadier General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engineer, Defenses of Washington:

SIR: My profession and my duties while connected with the army of the Potomac from Yorktown to the evacuation of the Peninsula impressed me with the absolute necessity of having good roads if a large army is to move to a greater distance than one day's march from its base of supplies.

Without pretending to know, much less to indicate, all the causes which contributed to the failure of that campaign, I will say that I always was and am still of the opinion that chief among these causes was the want of good roads.

The condition of the roads while we were before Yorktown was frightful, and such was the case most of the way up the Peninsula until we arrived at our final base at White House, on the Pamunkey River. All the difficulties, however, growing out of the condition of these roads as far as White House were finally overcome, though at great loss of time and terrible sacrifices of both men and animals. Arrived at this point, I was of the opinion that we ought not to have relied on the railroad for the transportation of the supplies of the army.

We had plenty of wagons, and i then thought, and still think, if we had made two good military roads-one for the advance and the other for the return trains-and defended these roads by fortifying three or four strong positions between Newcastle and Mechanicsville, on the right of our line of communication, that the result of the campaign might have been different. If this plan had been adopted, I am of the opinion that we could have advanced at the rate of 2 miles per day, building our roads, and securing them with the necessary works of defense as we advanced. If so, ten days from the time we started would have brought us to the Chickahominy with two good wagon roads of such construction that they could not have been seriously injured, and secured by three or four intrenched positions of such strength hat each could have been held by a brigade of infantry, with a couple of batteries of artillery and a few squadrons of cavalry.

I do not mean to say that the railroad from White House might not afterward have been repaired and used as a matter of convenience, and perhaps, economy, but I do not think it should have been made our chief reliance. We all know that, however much railroads may multiply