enemy is likely to be held at Manassas, unoccupied for most of the winter, to counteract the influence of seizures upon the Southern coast, and to support for a time their sinking spirits and fortunes, they may be tempted to a desperate effort for a victory in this direction by the concentration of greatly superior forces, striking a sudden blow and hastily returning to their quarters. As to the probabilities of this you can better judge, but I cannot doubt that it is a very important consideration, so far as the practicability of the reconstructio of the road is concerned. I have not spoken of any particular line to be taken in front of Martinsburg, satisfied that a defensible line could easily be selected, if the other points to which I have alluded were satisfactorily disposed of. The services of an engineer would aid us very much in these inquiries. If one could be spared for a week or two I should be much gratified. I ought to say that it is rumor only that brings us news of the completion of the road to Winchester. Well-informed persons direct from Martinsburg contradict it positively.
I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
Major-General, Commanding Division.
SPECIAL ORDERS, HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Numbers 190.
Washington, December 19, 1861.
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29. Brigadier General J. L. Reno, volunteer service, having reported at these headquarters in compliance with orders from the general commanding in chief, is assigned to duty with Burnside's division, and will proceed to Annapolis accordingly.
* * * *
By command of Major-General McClellan:
WHEELING, VA., December 19, 1861.
Adjt. General L. THOMAS,
Washington, D. C.:
Your dispatch saying General-in-Chief says of in person to look after Guyandotte Valley and Logan Court-House received.* I wish to meet his views of the public interest promptly, but as General Kelley is sick, General Reynolds gone home for a few days by urgent necessity, and I am in full communication with the valley by telegraph to Point Pleasant, I fear to leave here until I know precisely what he wants me to do, that he may give instructions. I will say I am getting troops, boats, shelter, knapsacks, and pack train ready for winter trip as fast as possible. I am in telegraphic communication with General Cox, who is watching the whole country and reports to me. He thinks nothing of force on Coal River. Logan Court-House is more dangerous to the Kanawha line than anything else. Road must first be guarded there, and from Logan to Kanawha at Camp Piatt. A turnpike from Logan down Guyandotte is almost impasable for horse or foot. Our troops should not move from Kanawha River until rebel
*See VOL. V, p. 688.
33 R R-VOL LI, PT I