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Report of the Secretary of War

Excerpt from Report of the Secretary of War: War Department, Confederate States of America, Richmond, November 3, 1864 The army of General Sigel, designated for the invasion of the Valley of Virginia, was defeated at New Market, in May last, and the troops from Western Virginia driven from the valley of the upper Roanoke about the same time. At a later period, these armies were united under General Hunter, and after a successful march up the Valley of Virginia, were encountered by General Early at Lynch burg and driven to the Ohio river. General Early, finding Washing ton City and Baltimore exposed, passed through the Valley, defeating all opposing forces, crossed into Maryland, and penetrated to the suburbs of Washington City and Baltimore. The cavalry raids of Sheridan and Wilson were defeated, and the attempts to permanently obstruct our communications have failed. The campaign, projected by General Grant with such mighty preparation, has been frustrated, and if he depended alone upon the means that were provided and were deemed to be superabundant, his failure would be absolute. But a proclamation has been made for the draft of five hundred thousand men by the President of the United States, to recruit his defeated and disuirited army and we cannot yet claim security or quiet. In the great central State of Georgia, the campaign opened about the same time, but operations have been, so far, less favorable to our arms. Preparation had. Been there made, early to meet, with adequate forces, exceeding the relative disproportion which has usually existed with all our armies, and repel the enemy on the threshhold of the State, but prudence or strategy led the General entrusted with the conduct of the campaign to prefer a retreating and defensive line of action. In consequence, our forces, though not without, on several occasions, severely checking and punishing their adversaries, whenever venturing direct assault, were gradually manoeuvred or pressed back towards Atlanta, the leading objective point of the campaign. When that important central point of union to various converging lines of communication had been nearly reached, and ap. Peared about to be abandoned, a change was made in the commander, and a strenuous effort was made to hold and defend, by force of arms, this place, which had become more important in a political and moral than me military view, from the significance the public of both sides had attached to its possession. It was bravely held for several weeks, and some successes, achieved with skill and valor, for a time seemed to assure to us its retention, when a hazardous movement of the enemy, which, with as much success to our arms as there was prompti tude 1n seizing the occasion by our commander, must have caused his ruin, resulting in victory, compelled our evacuation of the city and its occupancy by the enemy. This was felt as a serious reverse, and caused some depression of feeling throughout the Confederacy, while it was hailed with unbounded acclamation and revived hopes by the enemy. For the time, the loss of prestige and the political effects were unquestionably adverse to us, but results may show that its consequences were, on both sides, strangely misunderstood and ex aggerated. It has liberated our army for offensive Operations, while it has chained down our enemies to the tenure of a far inland position of no real strategical value since the breaking up of its railroad con nections, in the midst of a hostile population, and to be sustained only by supplies drawn hundreds of miles by a single line of road. The opportunities presented by such a situation have been seized and used by our bold and enterprising leader with promptitude and energy. The communications of the enemy have been cut in many places. Our army is in his rear, and he, instead of resting securely behind the strong entrenchments of his recent capture, is forced to come forth to encounter his skillful adversary on grou...
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