Unless the opening of the road is contemplated by the armed occupation of the country through which it passes or the enterprise with which Lieutenant Babcock was connected requires it, oif which I am not able to judge, I do not see that any important advnatage would result from the occupation of the town and heights alone, and if we were to move on this line to Martinsburg and Winchester I do not think it would be advisable to occupy the town more than a day or two before our columns were ready to move. I may, however, be mistaken in this. The chief doubt suggested on this point is the possible occupation of the heights by the enemy, and to this it may be said that he does not now suspect our purpose, that to could not hold Loudoun while the Maryland Heights were in our possession, and that Harper's Ferry could be easily turned, eve if held in force by the enemy, which is not likely to occur under any circumstances.
In view of an immediate opening of the road, or the occupation of the country through which it passes, or the repulse of the left wing of the enemy on the Potomac, I think an immediate occupation of Harper's Ferry and a vigorous concentrated movement of the columns from Harper's Ferry, Williamsport, Hancock, and Cumberland or Romney upon Winchester would be advisable. Success could hardly fail us, possibly without a battle; but if a fight should occur we shall hardly find the enemy in worse or our troops in better spirits. It is possible that this view may conflict with other plans. If so I should be glad to have the privilege of conferring with you for a few moments, that I might bring my forces to harmonize entirely with your purposes. I could visit Washington with the absence of an evening and morning only.
With great respect, general, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
Major-General, Commanding Division.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 13, 1862.
General J. HOOKER,
Six barges, capable of carrying 3,000 men, will be sent you from here, and ten barges, capable of carrying 5,000 men, will be sent around from Baltimore, the former to land at your landing and the latter to land below you. General Van Vliet will telegraph you as to the time the boats will arrive. If you desire it you can use the tug which takes the barges around from Baltimore.
R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff.
BUDD'S FERRY, MD., February 13, 1862.
General R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff:
Have received your dispatch of 13th of February and it is fully understood.