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Location & Approaches to Romney

War of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. V, p.1055
attached to letter of Gen. Loring to Gen. Jackson, Jan. 28, 1862
[Inclosure No. 2.]
Notes on the Location and Approaches to Romney.

This village is situated on the Northwest turnpike, within a mile of its intersection with the South Branch of the Potomac. From its location in a valley surrounded by mountains and hills not difficult of access it is of course indefensible. The approaches are (by roads) by the Northwest Turnpike east and west, the Springfield turnpike, and two roads up the South Branch to Moorefield. All of these roads connect with farm roads, which, with the nature of the surrounding country, render travel in every direction without baggage easy.

Defenses. — On the left front, a pass, through which Mill Creek runs. This is a narrow and tortuous part of the road, half a mile long, and ending at Mechanicsburg, 3½ miles from Romney. The pass is difficult to defend, the approach from the west offering no obstruction to the enemy, but affording them cover, it can also be turned on the south by a road practicable for artillery. It would be dangerous, therefore, to use artillery in or beyond this pass. The road mentioned above leads into the Moorefield grade, which passes through Romney and the pass. At Mechanicsburg, besides the Northwest turnpike, a road leads up Mill Creek, one to New Creek 18 miles, via Sheet’s Mill, and another 5 miles to Fox's

1056 N. VA., AND W. VA. OPERATIONS IN MB. [Chap. XIV.]

Ford, of South Branch, at mouth of Hanging Rock, on Springfield grade 4 miles. The road through this pass is at the base of a precipice on the right and on the bank of a deep stream on the left, straight 800 yards in length, and enfiladed by our guns; the mountain in our possession commands all neighboring heights. This pass can also be turned; 1st, by a ford 1 mile downstream : 2d, by another ford three-quarters of a mile farther down — these by foot troops only; 3d, by the Chain Bridge 2½ miles on Springfield grade; and 4th, by farm roads at the base of Jersey Mountain. There is also a road on the ridge of this mountain chain which falls into the Northwest turnpike 2½ miles in rear of Romney. Seven or eight roads lead from the railroad to the Winchester road in our rear. To secure our flanks and rear a large number of scouting parties and pickets are required.

For a small force this point is indefensible. For a large one (say 20,000), it could be made a strong position.

Respectfully submitted.


Chief Engineer.