to lead it, overwhelming disaster would have been the result.
's plan was, by means of a steamer (a single one), then in our possession, to throw troops across the lower Potomac, for a partial campaign, against a Federal force said to be on the opposite bank, under General Sickles
had evidently forgotten that the Potomac
, at that point, was more than a mile and a half wide; with a tide rising and falling from five to six feet, twice in twenty-four hours; with shallow mud-flats in many places, along both shores; and, last but not least, with United States
war-vessels controlling the river with untiring activity.
He had also forgotten that the Confederate
column—not a regiment, nor even a brigade, but, at least, a division —thus to be sent into Maryland
, would, of necessity, have had to return to the Virginia
shore after the expedition, whether successful or unsuccessful.
Suppose the landing on the other side had been safely effected—we cannot see how, but will suppose it, nevertheless—while the fighting was in progress, the river would have been patrolled with increased vigilance.
The enemy would have put forth every effort to cut off the return of the column.
Reinforcements would have poured in, from all points, to assist the attacked Federals.
What then would have become of the one steamer in our possession?
How could she have brought back our troops, and what troops would have been left to bring back?
We have no hesitation in saying that, had such a movement been attempted, the fate that overtook the Federal
column at Ball's Bluff, on the 21st of October of the same year, would have befallen the Confederates
Few indeed—if any—of the doomed men sent across the Potomac
, on Mr. Davis
's expedition, would have returned to the Virginia
shore to tell the story of their defeat.
Had any other but the President
of our armies proposed such a movement to Generals Johnston
, he would have been pitilessly and openly derided.
As it was, our commanding generals did what military etiquette and their duty towards their men required; they courteously, but, unhesitatingly, rejected the proposal.
We find it stated in the memorandum we have so often referred to, that, at the end of the Fairfax Court-House
conference, Mr. Davis
, after crushing the hopes of our generals by rejecting their