in General Sigel's department had better he collected at Harper's Ferry, so that it can be brought here or sent up the Shenandoah as may then seem most advantageous.
U. S. GRANT,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WEST VIRGINIA,
Cedar Creek, Va., May 18, 1864.
Brigadier General L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington:
No news of importance since the last engagement. The advance of cavalry of the enemy is at Woodstock. The infantry has not been able to cross the Shenandoah River, the water being too high. The enemy is constructing a bridge at Mount Jackson, and will probably march against me if he does not turn in another direction. Our advance is beyond Strasburg, and the cavalry was near Woodstock to-day.
(Copies to Brigadier-Generals Kelley and Weber.)
CAMDEN STATION, May 18, 1864-6 p. m.
(Received 6.45 p. m.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON:
Secretary of War:
After I left Washington to-day by the 3 o'clock train a letter was sent to the station for me from Major Woodruff, of Engineer Corps, stating pontoons could be towed more expeditiously than transported by rail, but adds that Colonel Pettes has been instructed to send by most expeditious route. As we are still keeping our cars and engine in Washington for this bridge, the want of which is so seriously interfering with military movements and public convenience at Harper's Ferry, we would like to know more definitely whether it is to go by canal or by our road, or whether it has started by canal and, if so, at what hour it left Georgetown. We are informed that with the locks the average speed upon the canal is less than four miles per hour. This would require nearly twenty-four hours from Washington to Harper's Ferry, while by rail it would go in eight hours at tonnage speed.
W. P. SMITH.
(Same to Generals Halleck and Meigs.)
Washington City, May 18, 1864-7 p. m.
WILLIAM P. SMITH, Esq.,
The pontoons were ordered by General Halleck to be sent by canal. I am satisfied that it is a mistake and that they should go by rail, and will try to have order changed at once.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.