Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/233
Johnson's Ride Around Baltimore in 1864- 225
of Jackson, Johnson, McCausland and Imboden, about 2,000 badly armed, worse equipped, and undisciplined mounted men, and three battalions of artillery of about forty guns and 1,000 men; making a total effective force of about 11,500 men of all arms. Washington could only have been taken by surprise, and it was impossible to surprise it, when General Grant at City Point was nearer to it than General Early at Sharpsburg.
Sharpsburg is four marches from Washington. It might be made in three forced marches. The sagacity of Mr. Garrett's recommen- dation that a battle should be fought at Frederick, even if it were lost, will be appreciated. It would have been nearly equivalent to one whole day's march, and extended Early 's time from three or four to four or five days.
On the other hand, transports from City Point could reach Balti- more on the Patapsco,'or Washington on the Potomac, in twelve hours. They could have transported General Grant's whole army from the James to the Federal capital before General Early could possibly have marched from where he was forced to cross the Poto- mac. In this possibility lay the strength and weakness of the strategy. Had Grant been so inclined he could have withdrawn his whole force, or such part of it as to have paralyzed his movements on the James, and the threat to Washington would make him con- template the necessity of such a move. If Early' s movement had induced him so to act, Lee would have been relieved, and the South allowed another year fora breathing spell. If it did not so influence him, we were no worse off than when the attempt was made.
I have always considered the movement one the audacity of which was its safety, and no higher military skill was displayed on either side, than that shown by General Early in this daring attempt to surprise the capital of his enemy with so small a force.
BRADLEY T. JOHNSON.