both cross the Potomac at the nearest point into Maryland, march on Washington, taking in the rear, while General Beauregard attacked it in front, General Johnston in the mean time arousing the people of Maryland wherever he passed to the defense of their homes and independence.
After I had laid before you these views, both yourself and General Lee spoke in terms of kindness and compliment to General Beauregard; thought the plan well conceived, and might be brilliant in this results if we should meet with no disaster in the details, and if the time for its execution had arrived. General Lee expressed the opinion, to which you assented, that the time for its execution had not yet arrived. With deference I asked General Lee for the reason upon which the opinion was founded. He proceeded to say the subject had been thought of generally. He thought the enemy was as yet too close to his cover; that if he found combined and superior forces before him he would not, or might not, give battle, but retire behind the protection of the guns his entrenchments, and thus defeat the objects of our combination; that in such an event we would be put to a great disadvantage of achieving nothing and leaving the other points exposed, &c.; that in opinion in would be better to draw the enemy father from his entrenchments, and by lengthening to weaken his line, which would give a better chance of success, &c.
Many other matters were spoken of at that interview as to the war generally, its policy, the character of our forces, &c.: but as they did not pertain to the object of my mission, they were not mentioned in my report nor are repeated here.
I believe I have given you the sum and substance of what occurred at the interview referred to in relation to the matter in question, and what is contained in the report which I made in writing to General Beauregard. I do not at this time pretend to verbal accuracy, but feel satisfied of the correctness of the substances of the matter. I had at the time, and I have before me now, a memorandum of the points submitted by me on the part of General Beauregard.
I am sure a full and dispassionate investigation and consideration of this subject will leave little ground for dissatisfaction. The success of our cause depends not meanly on the ability and fidelity, but to a great extend also on the harmony and hearty co-operation, of those who are chief and chosen instruments in the direction of our affairs. Any extended distrust in the crisis of our fate will bring dire calamities upon us. We must heed not the unwise babbling of time not the deliberate malice of many. Your and your generals are alike elevated above the reach of unworthy consideration. Firm in the consciousness of right, devoting all your faculties to the triumph to a common and a noble cause, you and they already afford to live in the clear light of a future judgment.
With great, your friend and obedient servant,
JAMES CHESNUT, JR.
RICHMOND, VA., November 3, 1861.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding Department Of the Potomac:
SIR: Reports have been and are being widely circulated to the effect that I prevented General Beauregard from pursuing the enemy after the battle of Manassas, and had subsequently retained him from ad-