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LETTER TO GENERAL
October 13, 1862.
My dear Sir: You remember my speaking to you of what I called your over-cautiousness.
not over-cautious when you assume that
you cannot do what the enemy is constantly doing? not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, and act upon the claim?
As I understand, you telegraphed General Halleck that you cannot subsist your army at Winchester unless the railroad from Harper's Ferry to that point be put in working
order. But the enemy does now subsist his army at Winchester, at a distance nearly twice as great from railroad transportation as you would have to do without the railroad last named.
He now wagons from Culpeper Court House, which is just about twice as far as you would have to do from Harper's Ferry. He is certainly not more than half as well provided with wagons as you are.
I certainly should be pleased for you to have the advantage of the railroad from Harper's Ferry to Winchester, but it wastes all the remainder of autumn to give it to you, and in fact ignores the question of time, which cannot and must not be ignored.
Again, one of the standard maxims of war, as you know, is to“ operate upon the enemy's
communications as much as possible without exposing your own."
You seem to act as if this applies against you, but cannot apply in your favor. Change positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break your communication with Richmond within the next twenty-four hours?
You dread his going into Pennsylvania; but if he does so in full force, he gives up his communications to you absolutely, and y.ou have nothing to do but to follow and ruin him. If he does so with less than full force, fall upon and beat what is left behind all the easier. Exclusive of the water-line, you are now nearer Richmond than the
enemy is by the route that you can and he must take. Why can you not reach there before him, unless you admit that he is more than your
equal on a march? His route is the arc of a circle, while yours is the chord. The roads are as good on yours as on his. You know I desired, but did not order, you to cross the Potomac below, instead of above, the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge. My idea was that this would at once menace the enemy's communications, which I would seize if he would permit.
If he should move northward, I would follow him closely, holding his communications. If he should prevent our seizing his communications and move toward Richmond, I would press closely to him, fight him if a favorable opportunity should present, and at least try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. I say
try”; if we never try, we shall never succeed.
If he makes a stand at Winchester, moving
neither north nor south, I would fight him there, on the idea that if we cannot beat him when he bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when we bear the wastage of going to him.
This proposition is a simple truth, and is too important to be lost sight of for a moment. In coming to us he tenders.us an advantage which we should not waive.
We should not so operate as to merely drive him away. As we must beat him somewhere or fail finally, we can do it, if at all, easier near to us than far away. cannot beat the enemy where he now is, we never can, he again being within the intrenchments of Richmond.
Recurring to the idea of going to Richmond on the inside track, the facility of supplying from the side away from the enemy is remarkable, as it