PAW PAW, VA., February 19, 1862-11.30 p. m.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
My officers and men are greatly gratified at your high compliment. For myself I disclaim it, having done nothing worthy of such distinguished notice. The forced reconnaissance by Colonel Dunning proves that, slightly re-enforced, he could have passed through Frnaklin and captured the enemy in front of General Milroy at Alleghany. The subsequent removal of the same troops from New Creek to Grafton is at variance, in my view, with what is requred in this department. General Williams, now at Hancock, states that he is to move to Williamsport. Would it not be better for him to occupy the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, protect bringing of Sleepy Creek, and capture Martinsburg? I can furnish him with excellent rope ferries, by which, whenever threatened by a superior force, he can retire to Maryland, or General Banks can re-enforce him. By these ferry-boats I can move a regiment across the Potomac in two minutes. I congratulate you on the earnestness and eneergy of the Wester troops under my command. They hae suffered every hardship and made no complaints. God bless them. If I could evade the Army rules and furnish them with a set of cooking utensils, such as men can carry upon their backs, which I have so extensively used in the Rocky Mountains, we should have fewer sick men and dispense with lumbering trains. Beef-cattle, sugar and coffee, and three tablespoonfuls of flour to a man are all that is required for a ten days' march. Nothing but my expeirence in mountain life has caused this army to move in the way it has. Neither the roads nor the enemy have been an obstacle, but the present organization is a terrible one. We are far behind the French army, and neglect experience, yet can teach the French army, taking the expeirence of overland travle, much more than they know of the art of transportation. Give me, sir, men and means, ordrs to go on, without complimenting for minor successes. Hold me strictly responsible for failure. I am never so sick as when I cannot move.
F. W. LANDER,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
February 19, 1862.
Which, in your opinion, is the best road to move your command on Winchester? If the road from Paw Paw to Bloomery Gap is a good one that route would suit the purposes of the commanding general better than any other. Please communicate your views to these headquarters by telegraph in cipher as early as practicable. What is the minimum amount of additional transportation you will require to make the movement indicated, which will be a combined movement of other troops with your own and of which you will be advised in time?
R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff.