Virginia as Switzerland?


Pin It

Virginia as Switzerland?

  • “Potomac Line” Harpers Ferry to Mount Vernon
  • “Rappahannock Line” Mount Vernon to mouth of Rappahannock River
  • Another line was apparently defined from the Rappahannock to South Side Virginia.
  • Western Frontier? Was there an “Irreducible Minimum”?

(Macius Wilson, History of the United States, New York, 1872.)


Strategic Plan for Switzerland-like Armed Neutrality?

As Colston’s plan is not known to have survived, other than the “Potomac Line” and “Rappahannock Line,” what the plan contained can only be estimated.

Such plans would be expected to define the defended territory, establish frontiers, and define an “irreducible minimum” – a defensible space which contains the essentials of government, war-related industries, and other economic necessities (e.g., adequate food supplies) and which must be defended at all costs to preserve the survival and sovereignty of the nation-state.

In Virginia’s case the outside territory would be first defined as the political boundaries of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1859 (modern day Virginia and West Virginia). The frontiers would have to be defined in all directions: the Ohio River and Appalachian Mountains in the west and northwest; the Potomac River in the north and northeast; the Chesapeake Bay in the east; and the extended border with North Carolina in the south. These would delineate the frontiers on which covering forces might be deployed for early warning, delay and varying degrees of armed resistance. East-west running rivers would provide a series of defensible line moving toward Virginia core area or “irreducible minimum.”

Virginia’s “irreducible minimum” would likely be bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Rappahannock River, Chesapeake Bay, and some strategic line of defense in Southside Virginia. Richmond and as much as possible of the Tidewater and Piedmont Regions would necessarily have been included.