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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 2, Part 1 (First Manassas Campaign)
Page 923 Chapter IX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

would rise in mass to aid him in repelling the invader. But suppose it should be otherwise, he could still, by retiring to the passes on the Manassas Railroad and its adjacent mountains, probably check the progress of the enemy, and prevent him from taking possession of the valley or massing to the rear of your position. We hope soon to re-enforce you to an extent equal to the strength you require by the junction of General Johnston, and I cannot doubt but that you will agree with me that you would then be better circumstances to advance upon Alexandria than if General Johnston, by withdrawing from the valley, had left the enemy the power to pass to your rear, to cut your line of communication, and advance to attack you in reverse while you were engaged with the enemy in front.

Concurring fully with you in the effect which would be produced by possession of Arlington Heights and Alexandria, if your rear is at the same time sufficiently covered, it is quite clear that, if the case should be otherwise, your possession, if acquired, would be both brief and fruitless.

To your request that a concerted plan of operations should be adopted, I can only reply that the present position and unknown purpose of the enemy require that our plan should have many alternations. I have noticed your convening lines upon Richmond, and it can hardly be necessary to remind you that we have not at this time the transportation which would enable us to move upon those lines as described. Should the fortune of war render it necessary to retire our advance columns, they must be brought mainly upon railroads, and that of Harper's Ferry would come by your present position. It would therefore be a necessity that General Johnston's columns should make a junction with yours before retired; but I have not anticipated the necessity of your retreat, and have struggled rather to increase your force, and look hopefully forward to see you enabled to assume the offensive. Had I been less earnestly engaged in providing for yours and other commands, I should have had the pleasure of visiting you before this date.

Two regiments have sent forward, neither of which, had reached you at the date of your letters, and you will soon receive further re-enforcements. They are not trained troops, but I think they are better than those of the enemy, and the capacity which you have recently exhibited successfully to fight with undisciplined citizens justifies the expectation that you will know how to use such force as we are able to furnish.

Very truly, yours,

JEFFERSON DAVIS.

ADJUTANT AND INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE,

Richmond, June 13, 1861.

General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,

Commanding, &c., Harper's Ferry, Va.:

GENERAL: The opinions expressed by Major Whiting in his letter to you, and which you have indorsed your concurrence, have been duly considered. You had been heretofore instructed to exercise your discretion as to retiring from your position at Harper's Ferry and taking the field to check the advance of the enemy. It is to be inferred from the papers now transmitted that you have considered the authority given as not equal to the necessity of the case-that you must needs


Page 923 Chapter IX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 2, Part 1 (First Manassas Campaign)
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