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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 5, Part 1 (West Virginia)
Page 834 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

on your general plan of operations. The purpose not being stated that has occurred to me as the most probable, because I take it for granted that you do not contemplate, with your present means, to attempt regular approaches on the enemy's works; and, from inspection of the map, suppose that, either to prevent a movement by land across the Occoquan and Quantico to attack our position at Evansport or to move your forces to cross the Potomac, you would equally prefer to make your base farther to rear. If, however, you should wait for an attack, still less can it be doubted that you would gabon by removing the battle-field as far from the enemy's entrenchment as other considerations may permit. We cannot afford to divide our forces unless and until we have two armies able to contend with the enemy's forces at Washington. Two lines of operation are always hazardous. I repeat that we cannot afford to fight without a reasonable assurance of victory or a necessity so imperious as to overrule our general policy. We have no second lie of defense, and cannot now provide one. The cause of the Confederacy is staked upon your army, and the natural impatience of the soldier must be curbed by the devotion of the patriot. I have field and feel that time brings many advantages to the enemy, and wish we could strike him in his present condition; but it has seemed to me involved in too much probability of failure to render the movement proper with our present means. Had I the requisite arms the argument would soon be changed. Missouri and Kentucky demand our attention, and the Southern coast needs additional defense. It is true that a successful advance across the Potomac would relieve other places; but, if not successful, ruin would befall us.

I had hoped to have been you before this date. I wish to confer with you and General Beauregard, and, as my health is rapidly improving, expect to be able to do so at no distant day.

General A. S. Johnston will leave very soon for Tennessee and Arkansas, to command on that frontier.

Every, truly, your friend,

JEFFERSON DAVIS.


HEADQUARTERS,
Manassas, September 9, 1861.

Honorable L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War:

SIR: I have just had the honor to receive your letter of the 6th instant, inclosed with a note from the Vice-President to you.

After a careful perusal of your letter i am uncertain whether it is intended to explain your motives for granting the leave of absence asked for by the Vice-President for Captain Lamar, or instructions for my guidance, made unofficially out of delicacy to me. May I beg to be informed.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. JOHNSTON,

General.

RICHMOND, September 9, 1861.

Brigadier General T. H. HOLMES,

Commanding, &c., Brooke's Station, Va.:

GENERAL: It was not designed in sending General Trimble to the command of the batteries and troops at Evansport to relieve you from the charge and responsibilities of your command, but rather to assign


Page 834 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 5, Part 1 (West Virginia)
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