War of the Rebellion: Serial 096 Page 1252 N. AND SE. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LVIII.

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WAR DEPARTMENT,

February 23, 1865.

General J. C. BRECKINRIDGE,

Secretary of War:

GENERAL: The experience for this war has manifested the importance of forecast and providence in all the arrangements that are demanded for the orderly and secure evacuation of cities about to fall into the hands of the enemy. We should take instruction from the lessons afforded by Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Norfolk, Atlanta, Savannah, Columbia, and Wilmington. It is already fairly in the contingencies of the campaign that Richmond will be evacuated. General Lee has not expressed confidence in his ability to hold it for some time, and has more than once intimated that it might be necessary to withdraw from it. It is the part of wisdom to consider what is to be done in such an event.

I respectfully submit to you to have these matters determined in reference to such a calamity:

First. To what point will the Government be removed?

Second. What departments or agencies of the Government would be removed to the point agreed upon?

Third. What portion of the archives and papers of the Government would be removed, and to what point?

Fourth. That the bureau officers be informed as to the preparations to be made in such an event, and to select the most useful of the material of supply.

Fifth. That the Quartermaster-General be possessed of the views of the Government, so that his transportation arrangements be effective.

Sixth. That the notice to citizens be timely.

Seventh. That notice to the authorities of Virginia be adequate.

Eighth. That dispositions for sick and wounded be determined on.

Ninth. That the workshops, machinery, and implements in private works may be considered of.

I do not submit this inquiry under any immediate apprehension, nor with any view to any immediate or hurried action, but upon a calm consideration of the prospects ahead of us, and to avert the evils from which the Confederacy has suffered so much. At no time previously within my knowledge have the military leaders spoken with so much