Virginia Volunteers, and Major Reger's command, leaving behind all of his officers and men who are not reported for duty, bringing with him four days' rations, if he has so much on hand; if not, bringing all that he has, with a full supply of ammunition.
By command of Brigadier General H. R. Jackson, commanding:
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
FREDERICKSBURG, August 17, 1861.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
DEAR SIR: I have heretofore presumed to address you on subjects of grave importance to our glorious cause, and I hope I shall now be excused for a few suggestions which at this time seem to me to be proper and well-timed. Having been here in the vicinity of the Potomac for some days, I have heard it hinted (with what truth I do not know) that we are preparing an outfit for an expedition into Maryland at some point opposite or nearly opposite Aquia Creek, Mathias Point, or some point on the Lower Potomac. Now, sir, allow me to say that such an experiment, in my judgment, would be hazardous in the extreme. Suppose we should succeed in throwing 5,000 or 10,000 men (which is very doubtful) into Maryland by that route, what, then, would follow? I know that in that event we would count largely on assistance from the Marylanders themselves, but we must remember that they are divided, and that those who are with us are very far from being organized and armed in a manner to make themselves felt. Now, what would we do in such a strait as that? We could not return to our own shore, and if pressed by the enemy, as we would be, we would either have to fight until the last man was killed, or surrender, which would be as bad. But there is a way in which Maryland may be occupied at a very moderate expense of life, and that way is by the Upper Potomac. There the stream is narrow and there are no formidable difficulties. It may be approached by us almost anywhere, and if necessary we could even bridge it in a short time. But that would not be necessary, as we could establish a line of ferries for fifteen or twenty miles along its banks that would answer every pupose. The grand point is first to gain a foothold at some one place on the Maryland side and all the balance will soon follow. What of General Banks? He is a mere cobweb in our way. We can fight him if we choose, or we can let him alone if we choose, and still make our landing good on the Maryland side. If we decide to fight him we can choose our own way of doing it. We can either take him in the front, or rear, or flank, just as we may conclude to be best; but the main point is first to get onto Maryland soil. To do this successfully we must prepare the timbers for ouhort distance form the river, within our lines, and haul them to the river and put them together. This caution is necessary to keep the enemy from knowing what is going on. In the meantime it will be necessary to greatly extend our lines and forbid all citizens from entering them. At the same time it will be necessary to administer an oath to each one of our men and officers that they will not disclose to any one at all what is going on in cour camps. This is the only way by which the enemy can be kept entirely ignorant of our movements. In the meantime we might make some slight demostrations at some other point to deceive him and mask from him our real plans. Add to all of this a rapid increase of numbers and the greatest