Marx-Engels Correspondence 1861

Engels To Marx
In London

Source: MECW, Volume 41, p. 303;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

[Manchester.] 3 July 1861

Dear Moor,

Your questions about the state of affairs in Virginia are easier put than answered. Is Washington still threatened? Not immediately, otherwise the Southerners would not have evacuated so much territory; but one doesn’t know, of course, how the opposing sides compare in terms of strength. Should the first major attack by the Northerners be decisively repulsed, it’s impossible to say what might happen, for there is no knowing where they would come to a halt again. However, the chances are three to one that, even in that case, the Potomac would form an adequate obstacle.

The position at Manassas Junction is determined by the Southerners’ need to maintain communications with North-West Virginia along the railway to Paris and Strasburg. If M. J. is lost, their nearest railway communication with West Virginia (on the far side of the mountains) would be the line from Richmond via Gordonsville to Staunton — 80 miles to the south; they would lose the opportunity of rapidly moving their reserves, particularly those immediately to the rear of their dispositions, from west to east, etc., as need arose, while any elements in West Virginia could be cut off or forced to make a wide detour. Such is the significance of the position — whether it has any tactical importance I can’t say, for no conclusions at all can be drawn from the maps. All in all, the war in West Virginia will now turn on the railway junctions.

The affair at Big Bethel is of no significance. Tactically speaking, it was abominably mismanaged; a night attack carried out with volunteers like these and, what’s more, with each column separated from the rest, could only end in confusion, mutual slaughter, and panicky flight.

On the other hand, the North would seem to be at fault in 2 respects: 1. the massive strength of the newly formed and fully mobile corps doesn’t appear to have been called on at all; they were kept kicking their heels some 400-500 miles from the scene of the fighting, whereas on the Potomac they would have been worth their weight in gold, and 2. brave old Scott would again appear to have made colossal plans for an encirclement which can only lead to a colossal dispersal of his troops; to what extent this may lead to defeats, given the slack ways and unknown heroes of the South, it is impossible to determine.

What is this about not voting on secession?’ According to all the papers up here, the resolutions at the conventions were ratified in each state by popular vote.

Let me know how il capitano che'l gran Sepolcro liberņ di Cristo, Goffredo il Magnanimo subsequently got on in the affair.

Enclosed SL 62585, five pounds, Liverpool, 12 May 1860.

I shall see if I can’t send you some more towards the end of the week.

How did Lupus get on at the Prussian Embassy?

Many regards to the Ladies.

F. E.