battle, another day like Union Mills, where we lured him into a fight on our ground, and we have him, and this nightmare is finished."
"One more day, sir?"
"Yes, that should do it."
'Then you agree with my position, Pete?" Lee asked. Longstreet forced a smile. "Sir, you command this army, and I follow orders." "But do you agree?"
"Sir, I've voiced my opinion," Longstreet replied. "But if you are confident of victory, then it is my job to help you in any way possible to achieve that."
"I will continue to weigh your suggestions, Pete," Lee replied, again using the more familiar first name. "Thank you. As I have said publicly many times these last seven weeks, your suggestion at Gettysburg that we abandon that field and go for a flanking march was the crucial element in . creating our victory at Union Mills."
"Thank you, sir. May I offer one further suggestion?"
"Either way, the B and O line will be important to us. May I suggest we contract with them now to get it fully operational as far as Frederick and position some supplies, perhaps some troops and artillery there."
"It will be the first time this army has relied upon such means for direct movement on a tactical level."
"Actually, sir, it was crucial at First Manassas, and Beauregard is familiar with its uses at Corinth and also the transfer of his troops up here. It is something I believe we should have paid attention to earlier."
Lee nodded in agreement.
"You're right. We should have looked into the use of the B and O earlier. I'll ask Secretary Benjamin if he would be willing to go over to their offices."
"And one other thing, sir."
"Get the pontoon bridges ready. We have enough captured bridging to run a span across the Potomac. I think they should be loaded on to flat cars and perhaps moved, preposi tioned, over toward Frederick."
"Now? Move them now?"
"General Longstreet, there is a chance that a sound-enough defeat of General Grant might afford us the opportunity to think aggressively, very aggressively, indeed. Perhaps even to span the Susquehanna in pursuit. We would need that bridging material shifted north instead of west."
"Sir, if we move the bridging material west to Frederick by rail, and Grant is indeed smashed, it will take but hours for us to return it to Baltimore."
"Why this insistence, General Longstreet?"
"Call it an ace up the sleeve, sir. If things should indeed go wrong, right now we are reliant on but several fords to disengage our army and pull back into Virginia. The pontoon bridges give us greater flexibility, and frankly, sir, I'd like us to have that extra ace."
Lee was silent for a moment.
"Sending them west, might that not give the wrong message to some, that we are preparing to evacuate?"
"If it does, so what, sir? Perhaps it might embolden Grant to move rashly and make a mistake. Either way, those pontoons are a nightmare to move. We all know that. It took Burnside weeks just to bring them up fifty miles last November and cost him the opportunity to get across the Rappahannock before we were into position. I urge you, sir, move them now."
Lee finally nodded in agreement.
"Who is in charge of them?"
"A Maj. Zachariah Cruickshank. He use to be in command of First Corps' supply train. After we captured the pontoons from the Yankees at Union Mills I transferred to him the responsibility for their movement."
"Well, sir, he has a bit of a problem with the bottle. A profane man as well, but one of the best men for running wagons I ever saw. It's just he got a bit insubordinate with me a few times when drunk, and I felt it was best that we dista nced ourselves for his good and mine."
"Insubordinate to you?"
"I'd rather not repeat what he said, sir. But regardless of that, like I said, he's a man who can be relied on when it comes to moving wagons."
'Tell this profane major to go down to the rail yards, find the right people