Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 28, 1861 (Monday): Johnston Strikes Fear In Union (Seriously)

General Charles P. Stone and Daughter Hettie
Poolesville, September 28, 1861.

Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Division, Darnestown, Md.:
GENERAL: The letter of which the inclosed is a copy has just been received from Colonel Geary.* I do not think that so large a force is in the vicinity of Leesburg but a smaller one by half could greatly annoy Colonel Geary and might succeed in doing considerable mischief by a temporary crossing and immediate return. I would respectfully recommend that Colonel Geary be re-enforced by a regiment and some artillery in view of possiblities. It does not seem probable that Johnston would have marched such considerable forces to Leesburg during the cold storm of yesterday, and I do not think that he had a force approaching 20,000 at Leesburg the day before. Colonel Geary seems, however, in my opinion, to credit his information and ought to be strengthened.
Very respectfully, I am, general, your most obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

P. S.-Troops leaving Darnestown early in the day could easily [reach] the Monocacy by night-fall.

C. P. S.

Official Record, Series I., Vol 51, Part 1, Page490

The letter from Geary referred to stated Johnston and 27,000 men were in the neighborhood of Leasburg preparing to cross the river and attack his position.  The war had settled into an odd quiet, with occasional probes but few attacks.  The press particularly in the North, was pressing McClellan and the administration to act, but with so little knowledge of Johnston's intentions or even location, there was a reluctance to commit forces and possibly suffer another Bull Run.  As for the Confederates, it is safe to say Johnston suffered an abundance of caution.  Although Beauregard had numerous plans to advance, most of them poorly considered, Johnston did not have enough confidence in his troops to move forcefully, or at all.

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