War of the Rebellion: Serial 045 Page 0022 (Untitled)

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made are consequently not always judiciously places, or of as formidable a character as they ought to have been. To be particular, I will say that many of the debouches that were purposely left near the forts, to enable us to follow a retreating enemy, or go out and attack him, have been closed, either by abattis or stockade, so that if the enemy were to attack us, and be defeated, we could not follow him without first removing them, or opening a road through some other point of our line. The necessity of closing up these debouches particularly just at the right and left of the forts, may well be questioned. Doubtless we could make a fort so secure that no cavalry could approach it, but in this case would destroy the vigilance of the garrison, and, if attacked, we could only repulse the enemy, as the very means we had taken to perfect our security would prevent us from going outside of our obstructions to complete his destruction. Again, the obstructions that have been made are of a trifling character. The abattis is of dry timber, easily burned or removed. If it is made at all, it ought to be fastened to the ground, like that around the forts, but, as it is, there is no place where a dozen men could not remove it in one minute's time. In one case I noticed the men taking away the abattis from the rear of the fort, to close up the gap between the fort and rifle-pit, which had been intentionally left open as a debouches. This was at Fort Craig. In another case, the stockade was of such small timber and so insecurely placed in the ground that I was enabled with my own hand to pull it up stick by stick. How long would such a stockade detain a regiment of enterprising cavalry? But it is at Alexandria that this species of folly seems to have reached its culmination. Doubtless this arises from the fact that it is here we have our quartermaster's and commissary depots, and it is here where we are liable, in case if a successful raid, to suffer the greatest destruction of property. Grant that these depots ought to be made as secure as possible, and that they may require special works for their defense, yet I will not grant that the works that have been made are judiciously located or properly made. The street leading to the depots are being stockaded. Of this work, or of its necessity, I do not propose to speak at the present time, because I did not examine it carefully, but there are some 2 miles of rifle-pits constructed around the city, making, as it were, a second line of defense, to which I beg leave, as far as I am concerned, respectfully to enter my protest, because-

First. It is not properly made to prevent a cavalry raid, and is not properly located for a defensible line against a formidable attack. In my ride yesterday, I encountered this rifle-pit in four places, and in every case I either rode my horse over it, or jumped it without difficulty. Now, I am a heavy man and ride a heavy horse; how long, therefore, would such a rifle-pit detain a squadron of light cavalry? The rifle-pit is almost without cross-fires; you may, therefore, line it with infantry will only keep their places in the rifle-pit, the squadron of cavalry can gallop along and either kill or capture the whole of them. A new formation in the open ground would be the only thing that would save them. Secondly. Such interior works are calculated to weaken our line of defense in front of Alexandria. In case we are ever attacked here,