Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 22, 1861 (Saturday): Jefferson Davis Congratulates Joe Johnston

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RICHMOND, June 22, 1861.
MY DEAR GENERAL: I congratulate you on the brilliant movement of Colonel Vaughn’s command. To break the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was essential to our operations, and if the bridge at Cheat River and the Grand Tunnel could be destroyed, so as to prevent the use of that railroad for the duration of the war, the effect upon public opinion in Western Virginia would doubtless be of immediate and great advantage to our cause.
If the enemy has withdrawn from your front to attack on the east side of the mountain, it may be that an attempt will be made to advance from Leesburg to seize the Manassas road and to turn Beauregard’s position. The recent effort to repair the railroad from Alexandria to Leesburg may have been with such intent. In that event, if your scouts give you accurate and timely information, an opportunity will be offered you by the roads through the mountain passes to make a flank attack in conjunction with Beauregard’s column, and, with God’s blessing, to achieve a victory alike glorious and beneficial.
We continue to send forward re-enforcements to Manassas Junction. On Monday and Tuesday a battalion of light artillery will go forward, and every effort is made to reach a condition which will enable our forces to shape the campaign by assuming the offensive.
I wish you would write whenever your convenience will permit, and give me fully both information and suggestions. Colonel Thomas recently undertook to explain to me your wants as one authorized to speak for you, and to-day Mr. Staples communicated his impression of your views, necessities, and wishes. I am sure you cannot feel hesitant in writing to me freely, and trust your engagements will permit you to do so frequently.
With earnest wishes for your welfare and happiness, I am, very truly,


This letter is rare in that Jefferson Davis is being elaborately polite to Joseph Johnston. The two men disliked each other even before the war. Here Davis congratulates Johnston on the destruction of track and bridges along the B&O railroad, particularly near McCoole, Maryland (a rail crossing on the Potomac)by the 3rd Tennessee Infantry under Vaughan. The strategic importance of the B&O Railroad was that it connected the northwestern United States to Washington, in much the way Baltimore and Maryland connected the northeast.

Official Records, Series I, Vol 2, Page 945.

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