Page:A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence in the Confederate States of America.djvu/62

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58
OPERATIONS IN FRONT OF WASHINGTON.

to render the fortifications around "Washington as strong as possible. This reconnoissance consumed the balance of the day.

The rapid marching which had broken down a number of the men who were barefooted or weakened by previous exposure, and had been left in the Valley and directed to be collected at Winchester, and the losses in killed and wounded at Harper's Ferry, Maryland Heights, and Monocacy, had reduced my infantry to about 8,000 muskets. Of those remaining, a very large number were greatly exhausted by the last two days marching, some having fallen by sunstroke, and I was satisfied, when we arrived in front of the fortifications, that not more than one-third of my force could have been carried into action. I had about forty pieces of field artillery, of which the largest were 12 plunder Napoleons, besides a few pieces of horse artillery with the cavalry. McCausland reported the works on the (Georgetown pike too strongly manned for him to assault. We could not move to the right or the left without its being discovered from a signal station on the top of the "Soldier's Home," which overlooked the country, and the enemy would have been enabled to move in his works to meet us. Under the circumstances, to have rushed my men blindly against the fortifications, without understanding the state of things, would have been worse than folly. If we had any friends in Washington, none of them came out to give us information, and this satisfied me that the place was not undefended. I knew that troops had arrived from Grant's army, for prisoners had been captured from Rickett's division of the fifth Corps at Monocacy. From Sharpsburg I had sent a message to Mosby. by one of his men, requesting him to cross the Potomac below Harper's Ferry, cut the railroad and telegraph, and endeavour to find out the condition of things in Washington, but he had not crossed the river and I had received no information from him. A northern paper, which was obtained, gave the information that Hunter, after moving up the Ohio River in steamboats, was passing over the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and I knew that he would be at Harper's Ferry soon, as Imboden had done very little damage to the road west of