this, or add the 2 miles of return road in the same time. This is as fast as I expect it is possible to build the road, and it is twice as fast as I think it will be possible to build the railroad.
The distance from Rappahannock to Richmond is about 42 miles-to Hanover Junction or Ashland is only about 36 miles. Eighteen days, therefore, from the time we start will bring us to either of the latter places, where the fate of Richmond may be decided.
If there must be a siege, the road can be continued as fast as the other siege works progress, and if this should be the case, then would these roads be their own justification.
Being only about 40 miles from our supplies, our wagons could go and return in four days. The could easily supply the army and bring up all siege material which would be very doubtful with a single-track railroad, even if everything at all times was kept in complete order. Pontoon bridges would be necessary over the Mattapony and the Pamunkey Rivers, but these could be made in one-tenth of the time that would be necessary to rebuild the railroad bridges over these streams. it may be objected that the army is not yet across the Rappahannock, but this is only an additional reason why it should march down that stream until it comes to a favorable position for crossing under the protection of the gunboats.
If we are to judge from the Coast Survey maps, such positions are to be found both above below Port Royal.
The advantages, in a strategical view, of taking the line from Rappahannock, or some point in that vicinity, are so obvious that they need scarcely be mentioned: 1st, the line is shorter; 2nd it is much easier protected.
We may and probably will find it advisable to have a road from the Potomac to our base on the Rappahannock. A small force, in a intrenched position near Aquia Creek will protect this part of the road from all guerrilla parties.
When the army reaches Rappahannock, the enemy must evacuate Fredericksburg, or they will run the risk of letting us reach Richmond by a shorter line than they must travel to intercept us. This movement, in fact, it may be safely presumed, would induce the enemy to evacuate the whole peninsula between the Rappahannock and the Mattapony. While the road between these two rivers is being made, the troops could fortify two or three strong positions between these rivers on the right of our line so as to protect this part of it. The first serious opposition which I would anticipate, if this line should be adopted, would be at the passage of the Mattapony. We would probably hold undisputed possession of one band and the enemy would hold the other; the result might have to be decided by an artillery duel, in which, however, we would have the advantage of being able to choose the place and time for the contest.
Once across this stream, the enemy would probably make their next stand on the Pamunkey, where a similar contest would undoubtedly take place.
Once across the mattapony, our supplies, if necessary, could go up that river in steamboats in the winter season very near to the line of advance, and once across the Pamunkey, our supplies could go up that river as far at least as New Castle, and, I believe, to Hanover. One or two weeks would probably be necessary to protect our line of operations on the peninsula between the Mattapony and the Pamunkey, and if the on the fate of Richmond was not decided before we reached it, similar works would have to be built between the Pamunkey and the Chickahominy.