to the Secretary of War
, asking that either he or the President
should come to Fairfax Court-House, to confer upon the subject of organization, and upon a plan for an offensive movement, which would then be submitted to him.
had conceived a scheme of operations, as distinguished for its breadth of view, and greatness of proposed result, as that which had been ineffectually urged before the battle of Manassas
It involved the raising of the available forces from forty thousand to sixty thousand, by drawing troops from various parts of the Confederacy
; their places, in the meantime, to be filled by State troops, called out for three or six months. This force assembled, a small corps of diversion was to remain in front, while the army should cross the Potomac
, under partial cover of night, either at Edwards's Ferry, or, by means of a pontoon train, at a point nearly north of Fairfax Court-House, which General Beauregard
was having reconnoitred for that purpose.
This army was then to march rapidly upon Washington
, and seize the Federal
supplies in that city.
It seemed almost certain that, even should McClellan
reach the threatened point in time—which he might undoubtedly do—he could not withstand our sudden attack and maintain his position.
His forces were undisciplined and demoralized, and Washington
had not yet been fortified.
's army thus placed at our mercy, and Maryland
won, the theatre of war was to be transferred to the Northern States
, from the Atlantic
to the Mississippi
, the entire West
being thereby relieved from peril of invasion.
As the Federal
government had not yet recovered from the effects of defeat, none of the points from which troops were to be drawn for this movement were seriously threatened; some of them were not menaced at all; and this offensive movement would have forced the Federal
government to recall its scattered troops for the protection of those points upon which the Confederate army would have been able to march after the fall of Washington
The moral effect of such an exhibition of power on the governments of England
would have been of incalculable benefit to the Confederacy
Upon the submission of this plan to Generals Johnston
, the latter at once approved it, and the former, though for some time unwilling, finally yielded his assent.
arrived at Fairfax Court-House on the 30th of