Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You Burnt What?

Today at Rapidan Station: July 13, 1862

There is a interesting exchange of correspondence found in the Official Records, tells of an incident concerning the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Bridge across the Rapidan.

In a message from Major General Nathaniel Banks to Colonel George Ruggles, Banks reports that ..."Major [James M.] Deems [First] Maryland Cavalry has returned this morning [July 14] from the front. He [Deems] reports that the party sent to burn small railroad bridges by mistake of orders destroyed the Rapidan Bridge."

Commander of the Army of Virgina, John Pope responded: "I regret very much indeed that any orders were given to burn any railroad bridges, great or small. The object of your movement was to preserve the road [referring to the O&A], not to destroy an portion of it. We are advancing and shall continue to advance, and the roads must be preserved for our use....By injuring them yo are obstructing our own movements, not those of the enemy. Be particular therefore to impress positively upon all your officers that they are to repair the roads in advance, not to destroy them. If you have a corps of workmen set them to work immediately to rebuild the small bridges that you have destroyed as rapidly as possible."

By reading Pope's message, you get a very distinct impression that he does not what any bridges burned or the railroad harmed in any way.

Hmm, (with tongue in cheek) I wonder if this is the reason Pope never advanced beyond Culpeper toward Richmond.

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