The campaign in Northwest Virginia.
September 17, 1861
The campaign in Northwest Virginia.
--Without presuming to criticise the plan of campaign for Western Virginia which our able military authorities decided upon in the outset, we think it has been rendered pretty clear by the course of events, that we have made a mistake in sending so large a force in the direction of Monterey and Huttonsville, to be penned up in the Cheat and Valley Mountains, and in sending so small a force in the direction of Lewisburg, to be outnumbered and checked first by Cox, and now by Rosencranz and Cox combined. The possession of the Kanawha Valley would itself have justified the sending of a much larger column in that direction than we have done; and now, the march of Rosencranz due South from Clarksburg against Floyd, on the Ganley, has shown that if we had sent to Lewisburg the main portion of troops which went to the vicinity of Hottonsville and Monterey, they could have marched upon Clarksburg and Grafton and the Northwestern Railroad, in that direction, with much more facility than the sequel has shown it can be done by way of the Cheat Moantain, Beverly and Philippi.
This is one of those facts which experience only could teach for it was a very natural conclusion adopted by our authorities, that the direct route of travel furnished by the Staunton and Parkezsburg Turnpike road was the proper one to choose for our own march to the Northwest. Now, that a very large force has been concentrated by as in the region of the Cheat Mountain, it would be injudicious to to withdraw it; and we trust we shall soon have tidings of its having penetrated into the country beyond the Cheat Mountain and river, and of its making its way successively to the line of the Northwestern railroad. It is clear, however, that should it succeed fully in this destination, General Rosencranz and a large portion of his force will have escaped to the valley of the Kanawha; and the question arising upon these facts and contingencies is, whether we shall leave our little army beyond Lewisburg to contend with greatly superior numbers until General Lee shall succeed in penetrating towards Clarksburg and in threatening; Rosencranz's rear: or, whether, while General Lee is pushing on towards Clarksburg, General Floyd should not be sufficiently reinforced to enable him to assume offensive operations again, recross the Ganley, and, in concert with General Wise, drive the enemy down the Kanawha.
Our Government has become so committed to the operations in Western Virginia, that it cannot afford now to let them hang fire. The enemy would boast of holding that country as if every day of possession were equivalent to a fresh victory over us. The moral effect of his continding there would be exceedingly prejadicial, not only to the Southern cause in that country itself, and in Kentucky, but also as a leading feature of the war. The Yankee newspapers are continually asserting that the South are divided in counsels, and pointing to Northwestern Virginia as a prominent in stance of the alleged disaffection. Virginia is too important a member of the Southern Confederacy, for a bogus Government to be allowed an apparent foothoid on any portion of her soil.
Until Northwest Virginia is delivered of the presence of the invader, the idea of a strong Southern disaffection will continue to retain a lodgement in the mind of the world. If Gen. Lee. with his comparatively large force, shall succeed in penetrating to Clarksburg, driving back the enemy's General, Reynold. with a force as large as, or largerthan, his own; it will still be inadvisable to weaken him in the occupation of the line of the Northwestern Railroad, by detaching a portion of his army to strengthen Floyd and Wise in their operations against the enemy with his largely superior force in the Kanawha Valley. There seems, therefore but one mode of meeting the question of policy and strategy thus presenting itself; and that is, by sending a very strong reinforcement to the army of the Kanawha.--Doubtless, these reflections have occurred to, and probably have been acted upon, by the Government; but as they are also those entertained by the public, we have, in the capacity of an organ of public feeling, put them down in the foregoing paragraphs.
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: Undated: September 1861