Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 17, 1861 (Sunday): Shortage of Ammunition Breeds Timidity

General Samuel Cooper, the Confederacy's Ranking General at War's Outbreak

                                                            HEADQUARTERS CAMP BUNKER HILL,
                                                                                    June 17, 1861.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant-General, Richmond Va:
     GENERAL:  On the morning of the 16th intelligence was received, apparently reliable, that no enemy is advancing on Romney, and that the large body of troops collected near Hagerstown would cross the Potomac yesterday.  The troops under my command were therefore directed to this point, on the road from Hagerstown to Winchester, the main route from Maryland into the valley of Virginia.  We are twelve miles in advance of Winchester.  My only hope from this movement is a slight delay in the enemy’s advance.  I believe his force to be about 18,000; ours is 6,500.  Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart, commanding our small body of cavalry, sent me intelligence last night that the Federal troops encamped yesterday afternoon about eight miles from Martinsburg (seventeen miles from this place) on this road.
    I will endeavor to conform as nearly as circumstances may permit to the instructions received from you on the 15th.  The want of ammunition has rendered me very timid.
    I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                            J.  E. JOHNSTON,
                                                            Brigadier-General, C. S. Army
P. S.---Colonel Thomas, who will deliver this to you, goes to expedite a supply of ammunition for small arms.  We have about thirty rounds.

Johnston has fallen back to Bunker Hill, blocking any Union advance up the Shenandoah Valley and placing himself on the flank of any advance by McClellan.  While the Confederates took many firearms and machinery at Harper’s Ferry, they evidently got little ammunition, judging by Johnston’s complain.

Series I, Vol. 2, Page 934

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