an attack be successful the enemy's troops would doubtless fortify and seriously threaten our right. If a large force should be landed on the Potomac below General Holmes, I could give him to other aid than General Whiting's command. Should the combined force prove too weak to maintain itself, the enemy's new base would be far better than his present one, for from it he could easily cut our communications. Either of the two movements suppose would probably be simultaneous with an advance by McClellan. The Potomac makes a frontier very unfavorable to us, especially as our enemy commands the water; for an army landing anywhere below Evansport might so threaten the railroad as to compel us to fall back, which would render the evacuation of the northern part of the Valley and of Loudoun County necessary. The roads in all this country are in a condition which renders quick marches impossible. They cannot be much improved by military labor. I have been trying for some time to procure negores for such work, and to make bridges, with little success so far, but some hope now. The inspection of the country between Dumfries and Frederickburg could be better made by an engineer officer than by me. It would require four days, which in the present state of affairs I should be unwilling to bestow upon it, as it might involve my absence from the army when no man could be spared. I beg, therefore, that an engineer officer may be sent to us if possible. In taking this position I expected by rapid marches to use the same troops to repel the enemy here and aid those defending the batteries on the Potomac. The condition of the roads, not likely to imprve during the winter, will make it next to impossible. Agents are employed to collect laborers to improve them.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
RAPPAHANNOCK BRIDGE, March 13, 1862.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
Mr. PRESIDENT: Upon the report of the chief quartermaster that the depots would be emptied on ted Brigadier-General Hill to leave Leesburg on the 7th and the other troops of the districtto march toward the Rappahannock on the 8th, their baggage leading. So much public property was still in the depots on the 8th that the troops were detained until the evening of the 9th, when they followed their baggage. The First and Second Divisions crossed the Rappahannock by the Warrenton road; the Third and Fourth at this point. Also the four regiments under Colonel G. B. Anderson, which formed the garrison of Manassas. Brigadier-General Hill marched by Warrenton. The troops under Brigadier-General Whiting crossedthe Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, and are near and above the town. The outposts, about ten miles in advance, extend from the Warrenton road to that from Brentsville. A reserve of ammunition and subsistence kept at Culpeper Court-Houseis tobe removed before the army marches farther. The management of this railroad is so wretched that it is impossible to guess when the removal of these stores will be completed. When it has been I shall cross the Rapidan and take such a position as you may think best in connection with those of other troops. By proper management of the railroad it seems to me that from the neighborhood of
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