well as by those not expert in the art of war; and their criticism has been unfavorable to him. But how far this is due to his failure to secure success afterward, or to the merits of the argument, cannot be decided.
Some argue that he should have turned on General Buell
and fought a decisive battle for the State
A knowledge of the topography of the country and of other conditions would not sustain this suggestion.
Had he gone out to meet General Buell
he would have had a river at his back with banks like a cannon and only one ford.
It would have been the battle of Fishing Creek
To fight in front of a defile, or with such a river in the rear, is condemned by the first principles of military strategy and by the common sense of good soldiers, whom it demoralizes.
Then again if Buell
had declined battle, and retired toward Bowling Green
could not have followed for the want of subsistence.
The region about Munfordville
is rough and only moderately productive.
For a year previous it had been foraged and exhausted of its surplus, first by the Confederates
on the south side and then by the Federals
on both sides.
On the other hand it would not have been wise to march to Louisville
without a junction with Kirby Smith
, whose force was scattered watching Gen. Geo. W. Morgan
and threatening Cincinnati
He could not communicate in time to effect this speedily.
The distance to Lexington
was about one hundred and twenty-five miles, with neither telegraphic nor railroad communication.
Even courier service was doubtful on account of bushwhacking home guards.
He was confronted with a problem requiring prompt solution.
A study of the map will show to the military student, judging by abstract rules, and not by the light of after occurrences, that his movement to Bardstown
, where he could obtain immediate supplies, be in position to effect early junction with Kirby Smith
for advance upon Louisville
, and to connect himself with his new line of communication south, via Cumberland Gap
, was the best alternative.