previous next


In moving by his left upon the Weldon railroad, Grant has merely continued the manœuvre which he commenced at the Wilderness last May, and has never abandoned from that day to this. He has at last reached a position from which he may give us some trouble by operating on the Danville railroads through parties of raiders, if our leaders should relax their vigilance, which we are well assured that they will not do, and if that road itself be not in a defensible condition, which, we are assured, it is. Apart from the danger to be apprehended to the railroad in question, we do not see that he has approached any nearer his object than he was before the battle of Sunday last. He is actually farther off from Petersburg, and the chances of isolating it are no greater now than they were then. By extending his line, he weakens it, of course, and renders it more liable to be attacked at a disadvantage. Though he could permanently cut us off from all communication with the South, he could not affect our supplies in any great degree; and that he cannot do, even though he should take and permanently hold the Danville railroad. Of itself, the Weldon railroad has, for some time past, been of little or no practical value to us.

From a very remarkable article in the Enquirer of yesterday, we learn general truths which ought to set at rest every apprehension which the public may entertain with regard to the consequences likely to result from the occupation of the Weldon railroad. Our true communication with the South the writer of that article says, and says truly, is beyond the reach of Grant, his army, and his gang of thieves that go by the name of raiders. If the Danville railroad be cut, the communication of the South with Lynchburg still remains intact, and it may be extended to Richmond by the canal and the Central railroad. But we are not so dependent on the South for provisions as the Yankees imagine. The harvests of the James and the Rivanna rivers, and of the Valley, have been abundant, and are all gathered in. Though the communication with the South were entirely destroyed, there is still an abundant supply for the subsistence of our armies. The Yankee idea of starving us out, and forcing us to abandon our positions by tearing up railroad tracks and cutting the bridges, is not only preposterous of itself, but has been to them the source of enormous loss in men, horses, artillery, and the materials generally of war. In the meantime, the railroads thus torn up are repaired before any serious inconvenience can arise from the want of their services, and long before the army would be in a starving condition, were it even solely dependent on them for supplies. This was demonstrated beyond the possibility of a mistake during the current summer, after the raids of Sheridan and Hunter. The repairs on the Danville road were completed in nineteen days, and those on the Central within the same space of time. The repairs on the Lynchburg and Tennessee road were pushed and finished with an energy and expedition which have in them something portentous. In the raid of May, twenty-three bridges — among them the bridge over New river, eighteen hundred feet long and sixty feet high — was burned. Although the timber with which this bridge was repaired was, at the time of its destruction, growing in the woods, the materials were provided and the work executed in nineteen days. When, in the middle of June, Hunter made his raid, he flattered himself that he had done the work on this road effectually. "The work of destruction," says the Enquirer, "was thoroughly organized.--Brigades tore up the track, mechanics, detailed and provided with tools for the purpose, piled, burnt, and destroyed the cross-ties and rail with as much system as had been employed in the construction of the road. They destroyed every bridge from Lynchburg to Salem, a distance of sixty miles, and rendered it necessary to replace from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand cross-ties. The rails had been heated, bent and twisted, and were straitened and replaced. The timber for these bridges and cross-ties, as well as for wood-sheds, and water-tanks, and other necessary structures, was growing in the woods when the raid occurred. The enemy had destroyed four thousand lineal feet of bridging. One of these bridges was nearly eight hundred feet long and sixty feet high. The whole of these repairs, except the principal bridge, was finished in nineteen days, and the road was in running order from Lynchburg to Bristol within less than sixty days from the day of its destruction."

We make this quotation, not only to show what energy and enterprise can do, but to prove that our communication with the South, by means of the Danville railroad, cannot be destroyed as long as raiding parties are the only dependence for destroying it. Permanent occupation is the only thing that can effect it, and we hardly think that possible just at this time. Even should the High bridge on the Southside railroad be destroyed, a temporary road could be made around the track, or the Danville railroad could be reached from the Southside by a road from Farmville to Keysville. Much anxiety has been felt with regard to the existence of railroad iron in sufficient quantities to repair these roads as they are broken up; but it need no longer be felt. Steps have already been taken at Lynchburg for re-rolling old railroad iron, and no doubt similar arrangements will be made here and elsewhere. In a short time, railroad iron may be made abundant, at least for all the purposes of war.

For most of the facts here stated we are indebted to the article in the Enquirer, supposed to have been written by an eminent citizen of Virginia, long distinguished by his thorough knowledge of the resources of the State and his zeal in the cause of internal improvement. We hail the opinion that our railroads cannot be long kept out of use by means of raids, as the more important, because we believe it is supported, if it was not originally inspired, by men of the largest experience and the highest practical ability. That is the only element in the question of Grant's present position which need give us the slightest uneasiness. If he cannot disable the Danville railroad so as effectually to cut us off from the South--if he cannot cut us off from the South even by disabling the Danville railroad effectually — and if he cannot starve out our army, even though he should cut off our communication with the South,--then we have nothing serious to apprehend from his late movement. It takes him out of the low grounds of the Appomattox and places him in a healthier position. That is something, but it is all. It does not give him Petersburg, nor does it advance him in his progress towards its capture.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
U. S. Grant (3)
Hunter (2)
Sheridan (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May (2)
June (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: