Army of the Potomac would be a sad disaster, and I have done all that was possible to strengthen you since the date of your glorious victory. The enemy has grown weaker in numbers and far weaker in the character of their troops, so that I have field it remained with us to decide whether another battle should soon be fought or not. Your remark indicates a different opinion.
The organization of the army into divisions would be advantageous if you have junior brigadiers of great merit and senior brigadiers unfit to command. As to a commander-in-chief, it is provided by the rule applying to troops who happen to join and do duty together.
In relation to the command of Brigadier-General Holmes I will only say that it is in easy communications with this place by railroad and force it has been kept in direct correspondence with Richmond.
The battery above Aquia Creek was located with reference to width of channel of river and defensibility against attack from Alexandria. The lower side of the Quantico commands the upper. The upper side of the Occoquan is reported to command the lower. The long and circuitous march from Alexandria to Quantico would enable you to strike the column in the flank and reverse. The direct and short march to Occoquan offers no such advantage. If we drive off the vessels from that part of Potomac, the Marylanders can some safely to us and we may cross to that part of Maryland where our friends are to be found.
Every effort shall be made to furnish the howitzers you want. Colonel Pendleton will give you details. I wish I could send additional force to occupy Loudoun, but my means are short of the wants of each small-arms would enable me to answer all demands, but vainly have I hoped and waited. I have just heard that General A. S. Johnston is here. May God protect and guide you.
Richmond, September 6, 1861.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding Confederate Forces on the Potomac:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I wish, unofficially, to say that the inclosed copy of a letter of Mr. Vice-President Stephens reveals a case similar to several others that have been brought before me, and which I have been compelled to regard as exceptional to the general rule established by you, that no furlough shall be granted at this time in the Army of the Potomac. You are doubtless aware that every rule, to be perfect, must admit of exceptions, like the case presented, that appeal to the higher and holier principles of humanity, the preservation of which the rule itself acknowledges and is intended to secure. I fully appreciate the necessities of your position regarding the orders you have issued in regard to furloughs and their rigid enforcement; but i respectfully suggest that a case may occasionally arise in itself constituting the essence of the rule.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. P. WALKER.