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[141] and the commanders of its armies to insure attainable success.

The position at Fairfax Courthouse, though it would answer very well as a point from which to advance, was quite unfavorable for defense, and when I so remarked, the opinion seemed to be that to which the generals had previously arrived. It therefore, only remained to consider what change of position should be made in the event of the enemy threatening soon to advance. But in the meantime I hoped that something could be done by detachments from the army to effect objects less difficult than an advance against his main force, and particularly indicated the lower part of Maryland, where a small force was said to be ravaging the country and oppressing our friends. This, I thought, might be feasible by the establishment of a battery near Aquia creek, where the channel of the Potomas was said to be so narrow that our guns could prevent the use of the river by the enemy's boats; and, by employing a steamboat lying there, troops enough could be sent over some night to defeat that force, and return before any large body could be concentrated against them. The effect of the battery and of the expedition, it was hoped, would be important in relieving our friends and securing recruits from those who wished to join us.

Previously General Johnston's attention had been called to possibilities in the Valley of the Shenandoah, and that these and other like things were not done, was surely due to other causes than ‘the policy of the administration,’ as will appear by the letters hereto annexed:

* * * General Lee has gone to Western Virginia, and I hope may be able to strike a decisive blow in that quarter, or failing in that, will be able to organize and post our troops so as to check the enemy, after which he will return to this place.

The movement of Banks will require your attention. It may be a ruse, but if a real movement, where your army has the requisite strength and mobility, you will probably find an opportunity, by a rapid movement through the passes, to strike him in rear or flank, and thus add another to your many claims to your country's gratitude. * * * We must be prompt to avail

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