Our Railroad Connections.
The enemy are exerting themselves with immense vigor to destroy our leading lines of railway communication.
spent the whole summer in trying to reach the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad at some point between Lynchburg
They were provided with all the troops and with every appointment they could wish, and they exerted themselves with a zeal worthy of better success in their important undertaking.
But they were disappointed, baffled, and held back upon the Kanawha
until winter came on to render their project utterly impracticable.
For the present, that plan of approach is abandoned by the enemy, and our railroad enjoys safe, temporary protection in the rigors of winter.
Their next plan of attack upon the same line of connection, farther West, was from the direction of Kentucky
into East Tennessee
, by means of the army of that nine-days' hero of unpronounceable name, Gen. Sch
This movement combined the double advantage of threatening our chief line of railroad leading to the West
, and of forming the left wing of the grand army of invasion in Kentucky
Irrespectively of the design upon the railroad, the movement was an important part of the invasion; and, irrespectively of the invasion, the movement was of value as threatening the railroad.
Independently, besides, of both these features, the movement was important as affording countenance to the formidable disaffection in East Tennessee
The temporary and accidental success of Schœpff at Somerset
has taken the enemy by surprise.
They were expecting no victory in that quarter, and their elation at the unexpected and unusual news exceeds all bounds.
Forth with is Schœpff confirmed as a Brigadier General
, and the fertile invention of the Yankee
is excessively busy in bringing out fictitious instances of gallantry and prowess, alleged to have occurred on the banks of Mill Creek
From small dimensions, the victory grows daily into greater proportions.
It has already been magnified into a full offset to Bull Run
, and is in a fair way to become an American Waterloo or Blenheim
We have candidly conceded them a victory; but our loss of life and men little, if at all, exceeds their own; and the balance against us consists at last only of items of animals, wagons, stores, and other mere materiel
of war. The problem remains after all unsolved, whether they can reach our railroad, for if their victory does not secure that result, it sinks into the unimportance of a mere successful frontier skirmish.
We are not advised what steps have been taken by our authorities to prevent their approach to the threatened line, but have no doubt that ample provision has been made against such a consummation of a leading movement in the enemy's programme.
Although that great line of road has heretofore been much exposed through mere inadvertence or ignorance of its real value, and left for the most part to take care of itself, it is, so far, we are sure, in no sort of danger.--The number of troops needful for its protection is so small compared with the transcendent importance of the line itself, and its protection is guaranteed by so many weighty considerations, that we think we may safely assume, now that the public authorities have become acquainted with its value, that it will be amply guarded.
Turning our attention, therefore, to the great Southern line of railway leading to the gulf States and gulf cities, we find two routes of importance and value.
One of them running through east Carolina, from Weldon
, is threatened by Burnside
; and the other, leaving this city and passing through Danville
, and Atlanta
, along the Piedmont country that supports the feet of the Alleghenies
, though not threatened, and the safest of all our routes, yet lacks a link of forty miles, between Danville
', not yet completed.
The President, with great sagacity and propriety, urged the completion of this link upon the country in his annual message; but whether Congress has responded to the recommendation by directing the immediate execution of the work, is still involved in the mysteries of their secret conclave.
This much is certain, that the work is not yet accomplished; perhaps it is not yet begun; and the fact remains, that our only line of connection with the South
, except the one through the mountains of West Virginia
and East Tennessee
, is imminently threatened by Burnside
We confess to have lost all apprehension of serious danger or harm to result from the naval expeditions of the enemy.
In their history, so far, they have proved unwieldy, inefficient, and frightfully costly to the Federal
They have inflicted little comparative damage upon us; and in a military point of view, have turned out to be the most wretched abortions.
Great expectations were cherished of Burnside
's armada; and the probabilities are, that it will prove the most stupendous failure of them all. Notwithstanding these things, however, the most harmless weapon that can be employed against our adversary is contempt.
To despise and underrate an enemy is the most fatal blunder known in warfare.
The presence of twenty thousand men in the waters of North Carolina
, with many cannon and all the equipments of an army, is a subject deserving any other treatment than that of supine indifference and contempt.
There are no troops engaged in this war capable of better service than the brave Carolinians
; and the enterprise of Burnside
will cost him many lives and casualties if it does not cost his whole army.
But, yet, a mere accident; a successful sudden push of a handful of troops in some unguarded direction, may bring them abreast of our railroad, and enable them to break up the line of travel by burning a few wooden bridges.
Is it meet that we should subject ourselves to so imminent a hazard without providing the remedy?
Ought not this Danville
' work to be immediately put in hand and at once completed?
Better that the whole industry of a great region of country contiguous to the needed line of road should be stopped and put upon the work, than that the interests of the entire country dependent upon open railroad communications should be imperilled.