The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5 by Abraham Lincoln
Memorandum for a Plan of Campaign [October 1?] 1861
On or about the 5th of October (the exact date to be determined hereafter) I wish a movement made to seize and hold a point on the railroad connecting Virginia and Tennessee near the mountain-pass called Cumberland Gap. That point is now guarded against us by Zollicoffer, with 6000 or 8000 rebels at Barboursville Ky.,--say twenty-five miles from the Gap, toward Lexington. We have a force of 5000 or 6000 under General Thomas, at Camp Dick Robinson, about twenty-five miles from Lexington and seventy-five from Zollicoffer's camp, On the road between the two. There is not a railroad anywhere between Lexington and the point to be seized, and along the whole length of which the Union sentiment among the people largely predominates. We have military possession of the railroad from Cincinnati to Lexington, and from Louisville to Lexington, and some home guards, under General Crittenden, are on the latter line. We have possession of the railroad from Louisville to Nashville, Tenn., so far as Muldraugh's Hill, about forty miles, and the rebels have possession of that road all south of there. At the Hill we have a force of 8000, under General Sherman, and about an equal force of rebels is a very short distance south, under General Buckner.
We have a large force at Paducah, and a smaller at Port Holt, both on the Kentucky side, with some at Bird's Point, Cairo, Mound City, Evansville, and New Albany, all on the other side, and all which, with the gunboats on the river, are perhaps sufficient to guard the Ohio from Louisville to its mouth.
About supplies of troops, my general idea is that all from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, not now elsewhere, be left to Fremont. All from Indiana and Michigan, not now elsewhere, be sent to Anderson at Louisville. All from Ohio needed in western Virginia be sent there, and any remainder be sent to Mitchell at Cincinnati, for Anderson. All east of the mountains be appropriated to McClellan and to the coast.
As to movements, my idea is that the one for the coast and that on Cumberland Gap be simultaneous, and that in the meantime preparation, vigilant watching, and the defensive only be acted upon; this, however, not to apply to Fremont's operations in northern and middle Missouri. That before these movements Thomas and Sherman shall respectively watch but not attack Zollicoffer and Buckner. That when the coast and Gap movements shall be ready Sherman is merely to stand fast, while all at Cincinnati and all at Louisville, with all on the line, concentrate rapidly at Lexington, and thence to Thomas's camp, joining him, and the whole thence upon the Gap. It is for the military men to decide whether they can find a pass through the mountains at or near the Gap which cannot be defended by the enemy with a greatly inferior force, and what is to be done in regard to this.
The coast and Gap movements made, Generals McClellan and Fremont, in their respective departments, will avail themselves of any advantages the diversions may present.
[He was entirely unable to get this started, Sherman would have taken an active part if given him, the others were too busy getting lines of communication guarded--and discovering many "critical" supply items that had not been sent them. Also the commanding general did not like it. D.W.]