HEADQUARTERS OHIO VOLUNTEER MILITIA,
Columbus, Ohio, April 27, 1861.
Lieutenant General WINFIELD SCOTT,
Commanding U. S. Army:
GENERAL: Communication with Washington being so difficult, I beg to lay before you some views relative to this region of country, and to propose for your consideration a plan of operations intended to relieve the pressure upon Washington and tending to bring the war to a speedy close. The region north of the Ohio and between the Mississippi and the Alleghanies forms one grand strategic field, in which all operations must be under the control of one head, whether acting offensively or on the defensive. I assume it as the final result that hostilities will break outon the line of the Ohio. For two reasons it is necessary to delay this result by all political means for a certain period of time: First, to enable the Northwest to make the requisite preparations now very incomplete; second, that a strong diversion may be made in aid of the defense of Washington and the eastern line of operations.
First urging that the General Government should leave no means untried to arm and equip the Western States, I submit the following views; Cairo should be occupied by a small force, say two battalions, strongly intrenched, and provided with heavy guns and a gun-boat to control the river. A force of some eight battalions, to be in observation at Sandoval (the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi and the Illinois Central Railways) to observe Saint Louis, sustain the garrison of Cairo, and if necessary re-enforce Cincinnati. A few companies should observe the Wabash below Vincennes. A division of about 4,000 men at Seymour to observe Louisville and be ready to support Cincinnati or Cairo. A division of 5,000 men at or near Cincinnati. Two battalions at or near Chillicothe. Could we be provided with arms, the Northwest has ample resources to furnish 80,000 men for active operations, after providing somewhat more than the troops mentioned above for the protection of the frontier. With the active army of operations it is proposed to cross the Ohio at or in the vicinity of Gallipolis and move up the valley of the Great Kanawha on Richmone. In combination with this Cumberland should be seized and a few thousand men left at Ironton or Gallipolis to cover the rear and right flank of the main column. The presence of this detachment and a prompt movement on Louisville or the heights opposite Cincinnati would effectually prevent any interference on the part of Kentucky. The movement on Richmond should be conducted with the utmost promptness, and could not fail to relieve Washington as well as to secure the destruction of the Southern Army, if aided by a decided advance on the eastern line.
I know that there would be difficulties in crossing the mountains, but would go prepared to meet them. Another plan would be, in the event of Kentucky assuming a hostile position, to cross the Ohio at Cincinnati or Louisville with 80,000 men, march straight on Nashville, and thence act according to circumstances. Were a battle gained before reaching Nashville, so that the strength of Kentucky and Tennessee were effectually broken, a movement on Montgomery, aided by a vigorous movement on the eastern line toward Charleston and Augusta, should not be delayed. The ulterior movements of the combined armies might be on Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans. It seems clear that the forces of the Northwest should not remain quietly on the defensive, and that under present circumstances, if the supply of arms is such as to render it absolutely impossible to bring into the field the numbers