Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 12, 1861 (Wednesday): Free Advice From A Politician

View Larger Map

Lloyd’s, Va., June 12, 1861.
His Excellency Jefferson Davis, &c:
My Dear Sir: Since I left Richmond I have been thinking of the rumor that the real attack upon Richmond would be made from the Rappahannock River. Whether the plan has been laid I know not, but I fear it is feasible, and, as you cannot acquainted with the topography of the country, I will say why I think it practicable. The only defense to bar the passage of our steamers on the Rappahannock, up to the head of tide, is a little fort (Lowry) which is now being constructed about thirty mile from the mouth of the river. Should an army be landed a little below the fort, it would cost but little to silence it, and then the whole Rappahannock Valley would be thrown open to the hostile fleet….Once at the junction, an invading army might take either of two railroads, and reach Richmond in a run of twenty miles; or it might, by a march of forty miles, upon the Central Railroad, put a strong force at Gordonsville, the junction of the Lynchburg and Alexandria Railroad; nor with the Hanover Junction, in the hands of an enemy, could Richmond be re-enforced, except from the south side of James River. As a strategic point, would not Hanover Junction be more valuable to an enemy than Harper’s Ferry itself? Indeed, would not its possession secure Harper’s Ferry.
Very truly and faithfully, your friend,

Hunter had been Speaker of the House in the US House of Representatives, and a close friend of John C. Calhoun. In less than a month he would be appointed Confederate Secretary of State. Like many in positions of power, he believed his understanding of military affairs ran deeper than it actually did. The Confederates had considered batteries at two different points at the mouth of the river, but didn’t have heavy enough ordinance to cover the entire channel. Fort Lowry was constructed at a narrow point on the river and was eventually completed before being abandoned in 1862. It is interesting to note that an ascent of the Rappahannock and march on Richmond from the river was never given serious consideration at any point during the war. Fort Lowry's location is marked by "B" on the map.

Series I, Volume 2, Pages 920-922

No comments:

Post a Comment