Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 16.djvu/92
86 Southern Historical Society Papers.
These extracts prove that the Confederacy hoped to hold the Bal- timore & Ohio road at that early period, hence the delay in ordering and preparing for its destruction in time to effect it thoroughly.
It was now charged that I had surrendered the road, and with it that part of the State to the United States troops. If my first orders had directed the destruction of the road, something might have been done, although I would not have had more than time to prepare for extensive damage to it. At the last moment, when I was about to leave Grafton, it was too late to effect much in the way of destruction. The Richmond government had delayed and evidently hesitated to order it to be done. The destruction of this road as a line of com munication between the west and the east could have been effected only by the destruction of its tunnels in the mountains east of Graf- ton, and this would have required force, time, machinery for boring, and an ample supply of blasting material. It would have been neces- sary to have prepared for this work long before the propriety of it was decided upon at Richmond. As it was, I was not ordered to destroy it until it was too late, and it was not until I had left Grafton and the road was occupied by United States troops, that I received the order specially to destroy the Cheat bridge. (See order of Council accompanying, dated June ist, received June 5th.) Immediately upon my arrival at Philippi, May 28th, I sent a company, in com- mand of one of my best officers, Lieutenant Chenowith, to destroy this bridge, the Cheat, a strong iron bridge, but they failed to accom- plish it. This was several days before I received the order to do so from Richmond. It seemed to be thought that I had only to apply the match to bridges and tunnels already mined and blow them up. The labor and material for such work were left out of view. The destruction of this road, however, west of Grafton, between that town and the Ohio river, whether done by myself or my successor, Gen- eral Garnett, would have been labor thrown away. It could and would have been replaced in as little time as it took to destroy it. The war taught that later on. And even if the road through this part of the State could have been thoroughly destroyed, it would not have prevented the occupation of this part of the country by Federal troops. Without any railroad, its proximity to Ohio would have insured its invasion by any United States force required to hold it. Just across the Ohio river was a vast extent of densely populated territory, all loyal lo the Union and connected by a network of rail- roads, from which an army could be moved into that section at any time.