Romney has been occupied by Confederate forces, and "Stonewall" has the prize he has long coveted, but he remains dissatisfied. Looking north toward the Potomac River, he sees an immense supply depot at Cumberland, Maryland, which he decides can be taken with quick action. Jackson plans to send the Stonewall Brigade, along with Colonel Taliaferro's Fifth Brigade of the Army of the Northwest, on a fast march from Romney toward Cumberland to destroy the railroad bridge and capture the supplies. These plans fall through, however, due to the exhaustion of the troops. Many of Jackson's and Taliaferro's regiments are down to a shadow of their former strength due to sickness, with a flood of ill soldiers overwhelming facilities in Winchester. That, coupled with near mutinous sentiment in the Army of the Northwest, forces Jackson to cancel his advance. He advises the Confederate Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin, that he is making arrangements for putting the army into winter quarters:
HEADQUARTERS VALLEY DISTRICT,
Romney, January 20, 1862,
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: Though the enemy have retreated to the Potomac, yet they continue in possession of the frontier of this district from 7 miles below Cumberland to the Alleghany. On the 1st of this month there was not a single loyal citizen of Morgan County who in my opinion could with safety remain at home, and the same may be said respecting the most valuable portion of Hampshire County. A kind Providence has restored to us the entire county of Morgan and nearly the entire county of Hampshire, but so long as the enemy hold possession of the railroad bridge 5 miles below Cumberland and the two railroad bridges above Cumberland they can make dangerous inroads upon us.
On last Friday night I designed moving rapidly with my old brigade and one of General Loring's, for the purpose of destroying one of the railroad bridges across the North Branch of the Potomac west of Cumberland and thus cut off their supplies from the west, and consequently force them to reduce their army in front of me; but as General Loring's leading brigade, commanded by Colonel Taliaferro, was not in a condition to move, the enterprise had to be abandoned. Since leaving Winchester, on the 1st instant, the troops have suffered greatly, and General Loring has not a single brigade in a condition for active operations, though in a few days I except they will be much improved, and will, if placed in winter quarters, be able to hold this important portion of the valley, but these quarters should be well selected and the positions strengthened, and hence the great importance of having a good engineer officer. It will not do for me to remain here much longer, lest General Banks should cross the Potomac. Consequently in a few days I expect to leave this place, taking with me Garnett's brigade. I have written to General Johnston that, unless otherwise directed, General Loring's command will go into winter quarters in the South Branch Valley, General Carson's at Bath, General Meem's at Martinsburg, and Garnett's at Winchester. The cavalry will be distributed at various points along the northern frontier. General Bogg's brigade, which principally belongs to the South Branch Valley, will be distributed over the section of country to which it belongs.
It is very desirable that the troops should go into winter quarters as soon as possible, so I trust that you will send me the best engineer officer you can, though it be for only ten days.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. J. JACKSON,
Major-General, P. A. C. S., Commanding