Brig. Gen. Philip St. George Cocke to Col. Robert S. Garnett, on the Move to Manassas

24 11 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 817-818

Headquarters Potomac Department,
Culpeper Court-House, Va., May 8,1861.

Col. R. S. Garnett:

Sir: In accordance with orders received from the general-in-chief, to post at Manassas Junction sufficient force to defend that point against any attack likely to be made against it by troops from Washington, I immediately ordered the Powhatan troop of cavalry to march from this place this morning, to join Capt. J. S. Green’s company, now at Amissville, Rappahannock County, and to proceed together to Manassas Junction, where there are two (raw, undrilled, ununiformed, and armed with the altered musket) Irish companies, lately sent out from Alexandria, and which I had ordered to be held and drilled at Manassas Junction. We will endeavor to use these companies. I have also ordered one section (two pieces) of Captain Kemper’s artillery, (the only part of his battery at all available as foot artillery, and that rendered available by doubling upon the two pieces the horses and ammunition he had for the four pieces), which I shall also take along to the same point. The Powhatan troop of cavalry and the section of artillery are absolutely all of the force at all available at this time at this place. I have telegraphed back to Charlottesville for two companies of riflemen to be dispatched to this point, and learn from Lieutenant-Colonel Fry that I will get but one, and that not until this evening.

Looking to Lynchburg, I learn that the armed companies of that place are now in Richmond, under Colonel Garland. If so, I trust, sir, they will be immediately dispatched to the command at Manassas.

We have no ammunition of any kind, except the limited supply sent forward to Alexandria. I shall gather in as fast as possible the armed companies that have not been mustered into the service throughout my department (if any there be besides those referred to), and concentrate them here at Manassas and Alexandria, as occasion may require.

From three to five thousand muskets or rifles should be immediately forwarded to this point for the use of this command; thence to be drawn for arming companies, as mustered into service. Some place will be provided as a magazine at this point. The powder, balls, munitions, equipments, and all ammunition whatsoever required for at least five thousand men, should be immediately prepared and forwarded to this place.

The city of Alexandria, situated, as it is, in the re-entering curve of the river opposite to Washington, on the convex side of that curve, is a point difficult to hold, in case the enemy shall have any designs upon it in the present weak condition of our forces. The enemy, by proceeding below, to Fort Washington or Mount Vernon, may turn the position, take it in the rear, and cut off its communication, and so by advancing over the bridges from above the enemy may, by short lines, turn and get in the rear of that place. In order to prevent such a disaster there should be, obviously, outside of and behind Alexandria, a force sufficient to throw out outpost guards, radiating upon the possible lines of advance of the enemy, to protect that place in the rear, and thus to support and cover the little force now held in Alexandria, and prevent its capture or annihilation. With such an arrangement the force in Alexandria could return, without danger of being surprised, and find support in falling back upon the force in its rear. But I have absolutely nothing at present out of which to constitute such a supporting force in rear of Alexandria. As soon as I can collect the means, or you shall send them to me, I shall endeavor to make the best use of them to this end.

Very respectfully, your obedient,

PHILIP ST. GEO. COCKE,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Potomac Department.

John Shackleford Green became captain of Co. B, 6th Virginia Cavalry.

William H. Fry became Lt. Col. of the 1st Va. Infantry.

Samuel Garland, Jr., became Col. of the 11th Va. Infantry