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The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
by Jefferson Davis
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"This, then, was the patriot army of Missouri. It was a heterogeneous mass representing every condition of Western life. There were the old and young, the rich and poor, the grave and gay, the planter and laborer, the farmer and clerk, the hunter and boatman, the merchant and woodsman. At least five hundred of these men were entirely unarmed. Many had only the common rifle and shot-gun. None were provided with cartridges or canteens. They had eight pieces of cannon, but no shells, and very few solid shot, or rounds of grape and canister.

"Rude and almost incredible devices were made to supply these wants: trace-chains, iron rods, hard pebbles, and smooth stones were substituted for shot; and evidence of the effect of such rough missiles was to be given in the next encounter with the enemy."[186]

Governor Jackson continued his march toward southwestern Missouri. He had received reliable intelligence that he was pursued by General Lyon from the northeast, and by Lane and Sturgis from the northwest, their supposed object being to form a junction in his rear, and he subsequently learned that a column numbering three thousand had been sent out from St. Louis to intercept his retreat, and had arrived at the town of Carthage, immediately in his front. These undisciplined, poorly armed Missourians were, therefore, in a position which would have appalled less heroic men—a large hostile force in their rear, and another, nearly equal in numbers to their own, disputing their passage in front. They, however, cheerfully moved forward, attacked the enemy in position, and, after a severe engagement, routed him, pursued him to a second position, from which he was again driven, falling back to Carthage, where he made his last stand, and, upon being driven from which, as was subsequently ascertained, continued his retreat all night. The killed and wounded of the enemy, left along the route of his retreat over a space of ten miles, were estimated at from one hundred and fifty to two hundred killed, and from three to four hundred wounded. Several hundred muskets were captured, and the Missourians were better prepared for future conflicts. Our loss was between forty and fifty killed, and from one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and fifty wounded.[187]

If any shall ask why I have entered into such details of engagements where the forces were comparatively so small, and the results so little affected the final issue of the war, the reply is, that such heroism and self-sacrifice as these undisciplined, partially armed, unequipped men displayed against superior numbers, possessed of all the appliances of war, claim special notice as bearing evidence not only of the virtue of the men, but the sanctity of the cause which could so inspire them. Unsupported, save by the consciousness of a just cause, without other sympathy than that which the Confederate States fully gave, despising the plea of helplessness, and defying the threats of a powerful Government to crush her, Missouri, without arms or other military preparation, took up the gauntlet thrown at her feet, and dared to make war in defense of the laws and liberties of her people.

My motive for promptly removing the seat of government, after authority was given by the Provisional Congress, has been heretofore stated, but proximity to the main army of the enemy, and the flanking attacks by which the new capital was threatened, did not diminish the anxiety, which had been felt before removal from Montgomery, in regard to affairs in Missouri, the "far West" of the Confederacy.

The State, which forty years before had been admitted to the Union, against sectional resistance to the right guaranteed by the Constitution, and specifically denominated in the treaty for the acquisition of Louisiana, now, because her Governor refused to furnish troops for the unconstitutional purpose of coercing States, became the subject of special hostility and the object of extraordinary efforts for her subjugation.

The little which it would have been possible for the Confederacy to do to promote her military efficiency was diminished by the anomalous condition in which the State troops remained until some time in the second year of the war. A strange misapprehension led to unreasonable complaints, under the supposition that Missouri was generally neglected, and her favorite officer, General Price, was not accorded a commission corresponding to his merit and the wishes of the people. It is due to that gallant soldier and true patriot, that it should here be stated that he was not a party to any such complaints, knew they were unfounded, and realized that his wishes for the defense of Missouri were fully reciprocated by the Executive of the Confederacy; all of which was manifested in the correspondence between us, before Missouri had tendered any troops to the Confederate States. It was his statement of the difficulties and embarrassments which surrounded him that caused me to write to the Governor of Missouri on the 21st of December, 1861, stating to him my anxiety to have the troops of Missouri tendered and organized into brigades and divisions, so that they might be rendered more effective, and we be better able to provide for them by the appointment of general officers and otherwise.

For a full understanding of the nature and degree of the complaints and embarrassments referred to, I here insert my reply to letters sent to me by the Hon. John B. Clarke, M.C., of Missouri:

Richmond, Virginia, January 8, 1862.

"Hon. John B. Clarke, Richmond, Virginia.

"Sir: I have received the two letters from Governor Jackson sent by you this day. The Governor speaks of delay by the authorities of Richmond, and neglect of the interests of Missouri, and expresses the hope that he has said enough to be well understood by me.

"When I remember that he wrote in reply to my call upon him to hasten the tender of Missouri troops, so that they should be put upon the footing of those of other States, and with a knowledge that as militia of the State I had no power to organize or appoint commanders for them, and that it was his duty to attend to their wants, but that I had sent an agent of the Confederate Government as far as practicable to furnish the necessary supplies to the militia of Missouri actually in service, I can only say, I hope he is not understood by me. It is but a short time since, in a conversation of hours, I fully explained to you the ease so far as I am connected with it, and there is nothing for me to add to what you then seemed to consider conclusive.

"Very respectfully yours,

"Jefferson Davis."

As is usually the case when citizens are called from their ordinary pursuits for the purposes of war, the people of Missouri did not then realize the value of preparation in camp, and were reluctant to enroll themselves for long periods. The State, even less than the Confederate Government, could not supply them with the arms, munitions, and equipage necessary for campaigns and battles and sieges. Under all these disadvantages, it is a matter of well-grounded surprise that they were able to achieve so much. The Missourians who fought at Vicksburg, and who, after that long, trying, and disastrous siege, asked, when in the camp of parolled prisoners, not if they could get a furlough, not if they might go home when released, but how soon they might hope to be exchanged and resume their places in the line of battle, show of what metal the Missouri troops were made, and of what they were capable when tempered in the fiery furnace of war.

I can recall few scenes during the war which impressed me more deeply than the spirit of those worn prisoners waiting for the exchange that would again permit them to take the hazards of battle for the cause of their country.

This memory leads me to recur with regret to my inability, in the beginning of the war, to convince the Governor of Missouri of the necessity for thorough organization and the enrollment of men for long terms, instead of loose combinations of militia for periods always short and sometimes uncertain.

General Price possessed an extraordinary power to secure the personal attachment of his troops, and to inspire them with a confidence which served in no small degree as a substitute for more thorough training. His own enthusiasm and entire devotion to the cause he served were infused throughout his followers, and made them all their country's own. To Lord Wellington has been attributed the remark that he did not want zeal in a soldier, and to Napoleon the apothegm that Providence is on the side of the heavy battalions. Zeal was oftentimes our main dependence, and on many a hard-fought field served to drive our small battalions, like a wedge, through the serried ranks of the enemy.

The Confederate States, yet in their infancy, and themselves engaged in an unequal struggle for existence, by act of their Congress declared that, if Missouri was engaged in repelling a lawless invasion of her territory by armed forces, it was their right and duty to aid the people and government of said State in resisting such invasion, and in securing the means and the opportunity of expressing their will upon all questions affecting their rights and liberties. With small means, compared to their wants, the Confederate Congress, on the 6th of August, appropriated one million dollars "to aid the people of the State of Missouri in the effort to maintain, within their own limits, the constitutional liberty which it is the purpose of the Confederate States in the existing war to vindicate," etc.

In the next battle after that of Carthage, which has been noticed, Missourians were no longer to be alone. General McCullough, commanding a brigade of Confederate troops, marched from Arkansas to make a junction with General Price, then threatened with an attack by a large force of the enemy under General Lyon, which was concentrated near Springfield, Missouri. The battle was fiercely contested, but finally won by our troops. In this action General Lyon was killed while gallantly endeavoring to rally his discomfited troops, and lead them to the charge. While we can not forget the cruel wrongs he had inflicted and sought still further to impose upon an unoffending people, we must accord to him the redeeming virtue of courage, and recognize his ability as a soldier. On this occasion General Price exhibited in two instances the magnanimity, self-denial, and humanity which ever characterized him. General McCulloch claimed the right to command as an officer of the Confederate States Army. General Price, though he ranked him by a grade, replied that "he was not fighting for distinction, but for the defense of the liberties of his countrymen, and that it mattered but little what position he occupied. He said he was ready to surrender not only the command, but his life, as a sacrifice to the cause."[188] He surrendered the command and took a subordinate position, though "he felt assured of victory."

The second instance was an act of humanity to his bitterest enemy. General Lyon's "surgeon came in for his body, under a flag of truce, after the close of the battle, and General Price sent it in his own wagon. But the enemy, in his flight, left the body unshrouded in Springfield. The next morning, August 11th, Lieutenant-Colonel Gustavus Elgin and Colonel R. H. Musser, two members of Brigadier General Clarke's staff, caused the body to be properly prepared for burial."[189]

After the battle of Springfield, General McCulloch returned with his brigade to his former position in Arkansas. John C. Fremont had been appointed a general, and assigned to the command made vacant by the death of General Lyon. He signalized his entrance upon the duty by a proclamation, confiscating the estates and slave property of "rebels."

"On the 10th of September, when General Price was about to go into camp, he learned that a detachment of Federal troops was marching from Lexington to Warrensburg, to seize the funds of the bank in that place, and to arrest and plunder the citizens of Johnson County, in accordance with General Fremont's proclamation and instructions."[190] General Price resumed his march, and, pressing rapidly forward with his mounted men, arrived about daybreak at Warrensburg, where he learned that the enemy had hastily fled about midnight. He then decided to move with his whole force against Lexington. He found the enemy in strong intrenchments, and well supplied with artillery.

The place was stubbornly defended. The siege proper commenced on the 18th of September, 1861, and with varying fortunes. Fierce combats continued through that day and the next. On the morning of the 20th General Price ordered a number of bales of hemp to be transported to the point from which the advance of his troops had been repeatedly repulsed. They were ranged in a line for a breastwork, and, when rolled before the men as they advanced, formed a moving rampart which was proof against shot, and only to be overcome by a sortie in force, which the enemy did not dare to make. On came the hempen breastworks, while Price's artillery continued an effective fire. In the afternoon of the 20th the enemy hung out a white flag, upon which General Price ordered a cessation of firing, and sent to ascertain the object of the signal. The Federal forces surrendered as prisoners of war, to the number of thirty-five hundred; also, seven pieces of artillery, over three thousand stand of muskets, a considerable number of sabres, a valuable supply of ammunition, a number of horses, a large amount of commissary's stores, and other property. Here were also recovered the great seal of the State and the public records, and about nine hundred thousand dollars of which the Bank of Lexington had been robbed. General Price caused the money to be at once returned to the bank.

After the first day of the siege of Lexington, General Price learned that Lane and Montgomery, from Kansas, with about four thousand men, and General Sturgis, with fifteen hundred cavalry, were on the north side of the Missouri River, advancing to reenforce the garrison at Lexington. At the same time, and from the same direction, Colonel Saunders, with about twenty-five hundred Missourians, was coming to the aid of General Price. General D. R. Atchison, who had long been a United States Senator from Missouri, and at the time of his resignation was President pro tem. of the Senate, was sent by General Price to meet the command of Colonel Saunders and hasten them forward. He joined them on the north bank of the river, and, after all but about five hundred had been ferried over, General Atchison still remaining with these, they were unexpectedly attacked by the force from Kansas. The ground was densely wooded, and partially covered with water. The Missourians, led and cheered by one they had so long and deservedly honored, met the assault with such determination, and fighting with the skill of woodsmen and hunters, that they put the enemy to rout, pursuing him for a distance of ten miles, and inflicting heavy loss upon him, while that of the Missourians was but five killed and twenty wounded.

The expedient of the bales of hemp was a brilliant conception, not unlike that which made Tarik, the Saracen warrior, immortal, and gave his name to the northern pillar of Hercules.

The victories in Missouri which have been noticed, and which so far exceeded what might have been expected from the small forces by which they were achieved, had caused an augmentation of the enemy's troops to an estimated number of seventy thousand. Against these the army of General Price could not hope successfully to contend; he therefore retired toward the southwestern part of the State.

The want of supplies and transportation compelled him to disband a portion of his troops; with the rest he continued his retreat to Neosho. By proclamation of Governor Jackson, the Legislature had assembled at this place, and had passed the ordinance of secession. If other evidence were wanting, the fact that, without governmental aid, without a military chest, without munitions of war, the campaign which has been described had so far been carried on by the voluntary service of the citizens, and the free-will offerings of the people, must be conclusive that the ordinance of secession was the expression of the popular will of Missouri.

The forces of Missouri again formed a junction with the Confederate troops under General McCulloch, and together they moved to Pineville, in McDonald County.

[Footnote 182: See "Confederate First and Second Missouri Brigades," Bevier, pp. 24-26.]

[Footnote 183: See "Life of General Wm. S. Harney," by L. U. Reavis, p. 373.]

[Footnote 184: See Ibid., p. 373.]

[Footnote 185: See "Life of General Wm. S. Harney," by L. U. Reavis, p. 72]

[Footnote 186: Bevier, pp. 35, 36.]

[Footnote 187: Bevier, pp. 86-88.]

[Footnote 188: Bevier, p. 41.]

[Footnote 189: Ibid., pp. 49, 50.]

[Footnote 190: Ibid., p. 54.]



CHAPTER X.

Brigadier-General Henry A. Wise takes command in Western Virginia.—His Movements.—Advance of General John B. Floyd.—Defeats the Enemy.—Attacked by Rosecrans.—Controversy between Wise and Floyd.—General R. E. Lee takes the Command in West Virginia.—Movement on Cheat Mountain.—Its Failure.—Further Operations.—Winter Quarters.—Lee sent to South Carolina.

In June, 1861, Brigadier-General Henry A. Wise, who was well and favorably known to the people of the Kanawha Valley, in his enthusiasm for their defence and confidence in his ability to rally them to resist the threatened invasion of that region, offered his services for that purpose. With a small command, which was to serve as a nucleus to the force he hoped to raise, he was sent thither. His success was as great as could have been reasonably expected, and, after the small but brilliant affair on Scary Creek, he prepared to give battle to the enemy then advancing up the Kanawha Valley under General Cox; but the defeat of our forces at Laurel Hill, which has been already noticed, uncovered his right flank and endangered his rear, which was open to approach by several roads; he therefore fell back to Lewisburg.

Brigadier-General John B. Floyd had in the mean time raised a brigade in southwestern Virginia, and advanced to the support of General Wise. Unfortunately, there was a want of concert between these two officers, which prevented their entire cooeperation. General Floyd engaged the enemy in several brilliant skirmishes, when he found that his right was threatened by a force which was approaching on that flank, with the apparent purpose of crossing the Gauley River at the Carnifex Ferry so as to strike his line of communication with Lewisburg. He crossed the river with his brigade and a part of Wise's cavalry, leaving that general to check any advance which Cox might make. General Floyd's movement was as successful as it was daring; he met the enemy's forces, defeated and dispersed them, but the want of cooeperation between Generals Wise and Floyd prevented a movement against General Cox.

Floyd intrenched himself on the Gauley, in a position of great natural strength, but the small force under his command and the fact that he was separated from that of General Wise probably induced General Rosecrans, commanding the enemy's forces in the Cheat Mountain, to advance and assail the position. Though his numbers were vastly superior, the attack was a failure; after a heavy loss on the part of the enemy, he fell back after nightfall. During the night Floyd crossed the river and withdrew to the camp of General Wise, to form a junction of the two forces, and together they fell back toward Sewell's Mountain. The unfortunate controversy between these officers, which had prevented cooeperation in the past, grew more bitter, and each complained of the other in terms that left little hope of future harmony; and this want of cooeperation led to confusion, and threatened further reverses.

General Loring had succeeded General Garnett, and was in command of the remnant of the force defeated at Laurel Hill. His headquarters were at Valley Mountain. General R. E. Lee, on duty at Richmond, aiding the President in the general direction of military affairs, was now ordered to proceed to western Virginia. It was hoped that, by his military skill and deserved influence over men, he would be able to retrieve the disaster we had suffered at Laurel Hill, and, by combining all our forces in western Virginia on one plan of operations, give protection to that portion of our country. Such reenforcement as could be furnished had been sent to Valley Mountain, the headquarters of General Loring. Thither General Lee promptly proceeded. The duty to which he was assigned was certainly not attractive by the glory to be gained or the ease to be enjoyed, but Lee made no question as to personal preference, and, whatever were his wishes, they were subordinate to what was believed to be the public interest.

The season had been one of extraordinary rains, rendering the mountain-roads, ordinarily difficult, almost impassable. With unfaltering purpose and energy, he crossed the Alleghany Mountains, and, learning that the main encampment of the enemy was in the valley of Tygart River and Elk Run, Randolph County, he directed his march toward that position. The troops under the immediate command of Brigadier-General H. R. Jackson, together with those under Brigadier-General Loring, were about thirty-five hundred men. The force of the enemy, as far as it could be ascertained, was very much greater. In the detached work at Cheat Mountain Pass, we learned by a provision-return, found upon the person of a captured staff-officer, that there were three thousand men, being but a fraction less than our whole force. After a careful reconnaissance, and a full conference with General Loring, Lee decided to attack the main encampment of the enemy by a movement of his troops converging upon the valley from three directions. The colonel of one of his regiments, who had reconnoitered the position of the works at Cheat Mountain Pass, reported that it was feasible to turn it and carry it by assault, and he was assigned to that duty. General Lee ordered other portions of his force to take position on the spurs overlooking the enemy's main encampment, while he led three regiments to the height below and nearest to the position of the enemy. The instructions were that the officer sent to turn the position at Cheat Mountain Pass should approach it at early dawn, and immediately open fire, which was to be the signal for the concerted attack by the rest of the force. It rained heavily during the day, and, after a toilsome night-march, the force led by General Lee, wet, weary, hungry, and cold, gained their position close to and overlooking the enemy's encampment. In their march they had surprised and captured the picket, without a gun being fired, so that no notice had been given of their approach.

The officer who had been sent to attack the work at Cheat Mountain Pass found on closer examination that he had been mistaken as to the practicability of taking it by assault, and that the heavy abatis which covered it was advanced beyond the range of his rifles. Not having understood that his firing was to be the signal for the general attack, and should therefore be opened, whether it would be effective or not, he withdrew without firing a musket.

The height occupied by General Lee was shrouded in fog, and, as morning had dawned without the expected signal, he concluded that some mishap had befallen the force which was to make it. By a tortuous path he went down the side of the mountain low enough to have a distinct view of the camp. He saw the men, unconscious of the near presence of an enemy, engaged in cleaning their arms, cooking, and other morning occupations; then returning to his command, he explained to his senior officers what he had seen, and expressed his belief that, though the plan of attack had failed, the troops there with him could surprise and capture the camp. The officers withdrew, conferred with their men, and reported to the General that the troops were not in condition for the enterprise. As the fog was then lifting, and they would soon be revealed to the enemy below, whose numbers were vastly superior to his own, he withdrew his command by the route they had come, and without observation returned to his camp. Beyond some skirmishes with outposts and reconnoitering parties, our troops had not been engaged, and in these affairs our reported loss was comparatively small.

Colonel John A. Washington, aide-de-camp of General Lee, was killed, while making a reconnaissance, by a party in ambuscade. The loss of this valuable and accomplished officer was much regretted by his general and all others who knew him.

The report that Rosecrans and Cox had united their commands and were advancing upon Wise and Floyd caused General Lee to move at once to their support. He found General Floyd at Meadow Bluff and General Wise at Sewell Mountain. The latter position being very favorable for defense, the troops were concentrated there to await the threatened attack by Rosecrans, who advanced and took position in sight of General Lee's intrenched camp, and, having remained there for more than a week, withdrew in the night without attempting the expected attack.

The weak condition of his artillery-horses and the bad state of the roads, made worse by the retiring army, prevented General Lee from attempting to pursue; and the approach of winter, always rigorous in that mountain-region, closed the campaign with a small but brilliant action in which General H. R. Jackson repelled an attack of a greatly superior force, inflicting severe loss on the assailants, and losing but six of his own command.

With the close of active operations, General Lee returned to Richmond, and, though subjected to depreciatory criticism by the carpet-knights who make campaigns on assumed hypotheses, he with characteristic self-abnegation made no defense of himself, not even presenting an official report of his night-march in the Cheat Mountain, but orally he stated to me the facts which have formed the basis of this sketch. My estimate of General Lee, my confidence in his ability, zeal, and fidelity, rested on a foundation not to be shaken by such criticism as I have noticed. I had no more doubt then, than after his fame had been securely established, that, whenever he had the opportunity to prove his worth, he would secure public appreciation. Therefore, as affairs on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia were in an unsatisfactory condition, he was directed to go there and take such measures for the defense, particularly of Savannah and Charleston, as he should find needful. Lest the newspaper attack should have created unjust and unfavorable impressions in regard to him, I thought it desirable to write to Governor Pickens and tell him what manner of man he was who had been sent to South Carolina.

After the withdrawal of the Confederate army from Fairfax Court-House and the positions which had been occupied in front of that place, a movement was made by the enemy to cross the Potomac near Leesburg, where we had, under the command of Brigadier General N. S. Evans, of South Carolina, four regiments of infantry (i.e., the Thirteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Mississippi, and the Eighth Virginia), commanded respectively by Colonels Barksdale, Featherston, Burt, and Hunton, a small detachment of cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Jenifer, and some pieces of artillery.

On the 21st of October the enemy commenced crossing the river at Edwards's Ferry. A brigade was thrown over and met by the Thirteenth Mississippi, which held them in check at the point of crossing. In the mean time another brigade was thrown over at Ball's Bluff, and, as troops continued to cross at that point, where the Eighth Virginia had engaged them, General Evans ordered up the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Mississippi, and the three regiments made such an impetuous attack as to drive back the enemy to the bluff, and their leader, Colonel Baker, having fallen, a panic seemed to seize the command, so that they rushed headlong down the bluff, and crowded into the flat-boats, which were their means of transportation, in such numbers that they were sunk, and many of the foe were drowned in their attempt to swim the river. The loss of the enemy, prisoners included, exceeded the number of our troops in the action. The Confederate loss was reported to be thirty-six killed, one hundred and seventeen wounded, and two captured; total, one hundred and fifty-five. Among the killed was the gallant Colonel Burt, a much-respected citizen of Mississippi, where he had held high civil station, and where his death was long deplored.



CHAPTER XI.

The Issue.—The American Idea of Government.—Who was responsible for the War?—Situation of Virginia.—Concentration of the Enemy against Richmond.—Our Difficulty.—Unjust Criticisms.—The Facts set forth.—Organization of the Army.—Conference at Fairfax Court-House.—Inaction of the Army.—Capture of Romney.—Troops ordered to retire to the Valley.—Discipline.—General Johnston regards his Position as unsafe.—The First Policy.—Retreat of General Johnston.—The Plans of the Enemy.—Our Strength magnified by the Enemy.—Stores destroyed.—The Trent Affair.

It has been shown that the Southern States, by their representatives in the two Houses of Congress, consistently endeavored even to the last day, when they were by their constituents permitted to remain in the halls of Federal legislation, to maintain the Constitution, and preserve the Union which the States had by their independent action ordained and established. On the other hand, proof has been adduced to show that the Northern States, by a majority of their representatives in the Congress, had persisted in agitation injurious to the welfare and tranquillity of the Southern States, and at the last moment had refused to make any concessions, or to offer any guarantees to check the current toward secession of the complaining States, whose love for the Union rendered them willing to accept less than justice should have readily accorded. The issue was then presented between submission to empire of the North, or the severance of those ties consecrated by many memories, and strengthened by those habits which render every people reluctant to sever long-existing associations.

The authorities heretofore cited have, I must believe, conclusively shown that the question of changing their government was one that the States had the power to decide by virtue of the unalienable right announced in the Declaration of Independence, and which had been proudly denominated the American idea of government. The hope and the wish of the people of the South were that the disagreeable necessity of separation would be peacefully met, and be followed by such commercial regulations as would least disturb the prosperity and future intercourse of the separated States. Every step taken by the Confederate Government was directed toward that end. The separation of the States having been decided on, it was sought to effect it in such manner as would be just to the parties concerned, and preserve as far as possible, under separate governments, the fraternal and mutually beneficial relations which had existed between the States when united, and which it was the object of their compact of union to secure. To all the proofs heretofore offered I confidently refer for the establishment of the fact that whatever of bloodshed, of devastation, or shock to republican government has resulted from the war, is to be charged to the Northern States. The invasions of the Southern States, for purposes of coercion, were in violation of the written Constitution, and the attempt to subjugate sovereign States, under the pretext of "preserving the Union," was alike offensive to law, to good morals, and the proper use of language. The Union was the voluntary junction of free and independent States; to subjugate any of them was to destroy constituent parts, and necessarily, therefore, must be the destruction of the Union itself.

That the Southern States were satisfied with a Federal Government such as their fathers had formed, was shown by their adoption of a Constitution so little differing from the instrument of 1787. It was against the violations of that instrument, and usurpations offensive to their pride and injurious to their interests, that they remonstrated, argued, and finally appealed to the inherent, undelegated power of the States to judge of their wrongs, and of the "mode and measure of redress."

After many years of fruitless effort to secure from their Northern associates a faithful observance of the compact of union; after its conditions had been deliberately and persistently broken, and the signs of the times indicated further and more ruthless violations of their rights as equals in the Union, the Southern States, preferring a peaceful separation to continuance in a hostile Union, decided to exercise their sovereign right to withdraw from an association which had failed to answer the ends for which it was formed. It has been shown how they endeavored to effect the change with strict regard to the principles controlling a dissolution of partnership, and how earnestly they desired to remain in friendly relations to the Northern States, and how all their overtures were rejected. When they pleaded for peace, the United States Government deceptively delayed to answer, while making ready for war. To the calm judgment of mankind is submitted the question, Who was responsible for the war between the States?

Virginia, whose history, from the beginning of the Revolution of 1776, had been a long course of sacrifices for the benefit of her sister States, and for the preservation of the Union she had mainly contributed to establish, clung to it with the devotion of a mother. It has been shown how her efforts to check dissolution were persisted in when the aggrieved were hopeless and the aggressors reckless, and how her mediations were rejected in the "Peace Congress," which on her motion had been assembled. Sorrowing over the failure of this, her blessed though unsuccessful attempt to preserve the Union of the Constitution, she was not permitted to mourn as a neutral, but was required by the United States Government to choose between furnishing troops to subjugate her Southern sisters or the reclamation of the grants she had made to the Federal Government when she became a member of the Union. The first was a violation of the letter and the spirit of the Constitution; the second was a reserved right. The voice of Henry called to her from the ground; the spirits of Washington and Jefferson moved among her people.

There was but one course consistent with her stainless reputation and often-declared tenets, as to the liberties of her people, which she could have adopted. As in 1776, reluctantly she bowed to the necessity of separation from the Crown, so in 1861 the ordinance of secession was adopted. Having exhausted all other means, she took the last resort, and, if for this she was selected as the first object of assault, "methinks the punishment exceedeth the offense."

The large resources and full preparation of the United States Government enabled it to girt Virginia as with a wall of fire. It has been shown that she was threatened from the east, from the north, and from the west. The capital of the State and of the Confederacy, Richmond, was the objective point, and on this the march of three columns concentrated. On the east, the advance of the enemy was on several occasions feasible, when we consider the number of his forces at and about Fortress Monroe, in comparison with the small means retained for the defense of the capital. On the north, the most formidable army of the enemy was assembled; to oppose it we had the comparatively small Army of the Potomac. This being regarded as the line on which the greatest danger was apprehended, our efforts were mostly directed toward giving it the requisite strength. Troops, as rapidly as they could be raised and armed, were sent forward for that purpose. From the beginning to the close of the war, we mainly relied for the defense of the capital on its aged citizens, boys too young for service, and the civil employees of the executive departments. On several occasions these were called out to resist an attack. They answered with alacrity, and always bore themselves gallantly, more than once repelling the enemy in the open field. Had it been practicable to do so, it would surely have been proper to keep a large force in reserve for the defense of the capital, so often and vauntingly proclaimed to be the object of the enemy's campaign. Perhaps the propriety of such provision gave currency and credence to rumors that we had a large force at Richmond. This even led to the application for a detachment from it to reenforce our Army of the Potomac, which caused me to write to General J. E. Johnston at Manassas, Virginia, on September 5, 1861, as follows:

"You have again been deceived as to the forces here. We never have had anything near to twenty thousand men, and have now but little over one fourth of that number.... Since the date of your glorious victory the enemy have grown weaker in numbers, and far weaker in the character of their troops, so that I had felt it remained with us to decide whether another battle should soon be fought or not. Your remark indicates a different opinion.... I wish I could send additional force to occupy Loudon, but my means are short of the wants of each division I am laboring to protect. One ship-load of small-arms would enable me to answer all demands, but vainly have I hoped and waited."

Then, there, and everywhere, our difficulty was the want of arms and munitions of war. Lamentable cries came to us from the West for the supplies which would enable patriotic citizens to defend their homes. The resource upon which the people had so confidently relied, the private arms in the hands of citizens, proved a sad delusion, and elsewhere it has been shown how deficient we were in ammunition, or the means of providing it. The simple fact was, the country had gone to war without counting the cost.

Undue elation over our victory at Manassas was followed by dissatisfaction at what was termed the failure to reap the fruits of victory; and rumors, for which there could be no better excuse than partisan zeal, were circulated that the heroes of the hour were prevented from reaping the fruits of the victory by the interference of the President. Naturally there followed another rumor, that the inaction of the victorious army, to which reenforcements continued to be sent, was due to the policy of the President; and he also was held responsible, and with more apparent justice, for the failure to organize the troops of the several States, as the law contemplated, into brigades and divisions composed of the soldiers of each.

Though these unjust criticisms weakened the power of the Government to meet its present and provide for its future necessities, I bore them in silence, lest to vindicate myself should injure the public service by turning the public censure to the generals on whom the hopes of the country rested. That motive no longer exists; and, to justify the faith of those who, without a defense continued to uphold my hands, I propose to set forth the facts by correspondence and otherwise. So far as, in doing this, blame shall be transferred from me to others, it will be the incident, not the design, as it would be most gratifying to me only to notice for praise each and all who wore the gray.

The fiction of my having prevented the pursuit of the enemy after the victory of Manassas was exploded after it had acquired an authoritative and semi-official form in the manner and for the reasons heretofore set forth. It only remains, therefore, to notice the other points indicated above:

First, the organization of the army.

Disease and discontent are known to be the attendants of armies lying unemployed in camps, especially, as in our case, when the troops were composed of citizens called from their homes under the idea of a pressing necessity, and with the hope of soon returning to them.

Our citizen soldiers were a powerful political element, and their correspondence, finding its way to the people through the press and to the halls of Congress by direct communication with the members, was felt, by its influence both upon public opinion and general legislation. Members of Congress, and notably the Vice-President, contended that men should be allowed to go home and attend to their private affairs while there were no active operations, and that there was no doubt but that they would return whenever there was to be a battle. The experience of war soon taught our people the absurdity of such ideas, and before its close probably none would have uttered them.

There were very many men out of the army who were anxious to enter it, but for whom we had not arms. This gave rise to the remark, more humorous than profound, that we "stood around the camps with clubs to keep one set in and an other set out." Had this been true, it was certainly justifiable to refuse to exchange a trained man for a recruit. All who have seen service know that one old soldier is, in campaign, equal to several who have everything of military life to learn.

A marked characteristic of the Southern people was individuality, and time was needful to teach them that the terrible machine, a disciplined army, must be made of men who had surrendered their freedom of will. The most distinguished of our citizens were not the slowest to learn the lesson, and perhaps no army ever more thoroughly knew it than did that which Lee led into Pennsylvania, and none ever had a leader who in his own conduct better illustrated the lesson.

Our largest army in 1861 was that of the Potomac. It had been formed by the junction of the forces under General J. E. Johnston with those under General P. G. T. Beauregard, with such additions as could be hurriedly sent forward to meet the enemy on the field of Manassas. They were combined into brigades and divisions as pressing exigencies required.

By the act of February 28, 1861, the President was authorized to receive companies, battalions, and regiments to form a part of the provisional army of the Confederate States, and, with the advice and consent of Congress, to appoint general officers for them; and by the act of March 6th the President was to apportion the staff and general officers among the respective States from which the volunteers were received. It will thus be seen that the States generously surrendered their right to preserve for those volunteers the character of State troops and to appoint general officers when furnishing a sufficient number of regiments to require such grade for their command; but, in giving their volunteers to form the provisional army of the Confederacy, it was distinctly suggested that the general officers should be so appointed as to make a just apportionment among the States furnishing the troops.

During the repose which followed the battle of Manassas, it was deemed proper that the regiments of the different States should be assembled in brigades together, and, as far as consistent with the public service, that the spirit of the law should be complied with by the assignment of brigadier-generals of the same State from which the troops were drawn. Instructions to that end were therefore given, and again and again repeated, but were for a long time only partially complied with, until the delay formed the basis of the argument that those who had by association become thoroughly acquainted would more advantageously be left united. In the mean time, frequent complaints came to me from the army, of unjust discrimination, the law being executed in regard to the troops of some States but not of others, and of serious discontent arising therefrom.

The duty to obey the law was imperative, and neither the Executive nor the officers of the army had any right to question its propriety. I, however, considered the policy of that law wise, and was not surprised when it was stated to me that the persistent obstruction to its execution was repressing the spirit to volunteer in places to which complaints of such supposed favoritism had been transmitted.

About the 1st of October, at the request of General Johnston, I went to his headquarters, at Fairfax Court-House, for the purpose of conference.

At the time of this visit to the army, the attention of the general officers, who then met me in conference, was called to the obligation created by law to organize the troops, when the numbers tendered by any State permitted it, into brigades and divisions composed of the regiments, battalions, or companies of such State, and to assign general and staff officers in the ratio of the troops thus received. After my return to the capital, the importance of the subject weighed so heavily upon me as to lead to correspondence with the generals, which will be best understood by the following extracts from my letters to them—which are here appended:

"Major-General G. W. Smith, Army of Potomac.

"... How have you progressed in the solution of the problem I left—the organization of the troops with reference to the States, and term of service? If the volunteers continue their complaints that they are commanded by strangers and do not get justice, and that they are kept in camp to die when reported for hospital by the surgeon, we shall soon feel a reaction in the matter of volunteering. Already I have been much pressed on both subjects, and have answered by promising that the generals would give due attention, and, I hoped, make satisfactory changes. The authority to organize regiments into brigades and the latter into divisions is by law conferred only on the President; and I must be able to assume responsibility of the action taken by whomsoever acts for me in that regard. By reference to the law, you will see that, in surrendering the sole power to appoint general officers, it was nevertheless designed, as far as should be found consistent, to keep up the State relation of troops and generals. Kentucky has a brigadier, but not a brigade; she has, however, a regiment—that regiment and brigadier might be associated together. Louisiana had regiments enough to form a brigade, but no brigadier in either corps; all of the regiments were sent to that corps commanded by a Louisiana general. Georgia has regiments now organized into two brigades; she has on duty with that army two brigadiers, but one of them serves with other troops. Mississippi troops were scattered as if the State were unknown. Brigadier-General Clark was sent to remove a growing dissatisfaction, but, though the State had nine regiments there, he (Clark) was put in command of a post and depot of supplies. These nine regiments should form two brigades. Brigadiers Clark and (as a native of Mississippi) Whiting should be placed in command of them, and the regiments for the war put in the army man's brigade. Both brigades should be put in the division commanded by General Van Dorn, of Mississippi. Thus would the spirit and intent of the law be complied with, disagreeable complaint be spared me, and more of content be assured under the trials to which you look forward. It is needless to specify further. I have been able in writing to you to speak freely, and you have no past associations to disturb the judgment to be passed upon the views presented. I have made and am making inquiries as to the practicability of getting a corps of negroes for laborers to aid in the construction of an intrenched line in rear of your present position.

"Your remarks on the want of efficient staff-officers are realized in all their force, and I hope, among the elements which constitute a staff-officer for volunteers, you have duly estimated the qualities of forbearance and urbanity. Many of the privates are men of high social position, of scholarship and fortune. Their pride furnishes the motive for good conduct, and, if wounded, is turned from an instrument of good to one of great power for evil...."

"Richmond, Virginia, October 16, 1861.

"General Beauregard, Manassas, Virginia.

"... I have thought often upon the questions of reorganization which were submitted to you, and it has seemed to me that, whether in view of disease, or the disappointment and suffering of a winter cantonment on a line of defense, or of a battle to be fought in and near your position, it was desirable to combine the troops, by a new distribution, with as little delay as practicable. They will be stimulated to extraordinary effort when so organized, in that the fame of their State will be in their keeping, and that each will feel that his immediate commander will desire to exalt rather than diminish his services. You pointed me to the fact that you had observed that rule in the case of the Louisiana and Carolina troops, and you will not fail to perceive that others find in the fact a reason for the like disposal of them. In the hour of sickness, and the tedium of waiting for spring, men from the same region will best console and relieve each other. The maintenance of our cause rests on the sentiments of the people. Letters from the camp, complaining of inequality and harshness in the treatment of the men, have already dulled the enthusiasm which filled our ranks with men who by birth, fortune, education, and social position were the equals of any officer in the land. The spirit of our military law is manifested in the fact that the State organization was limited to the regiment. The volunteers come in sufficient numbers to have brigadiers, but have only colonels. It was not then intended (is the necessary conclusion) that those troops should be under the immediate command of officers above the grade of colonel. The spirit of the law, then, indicates that brigades should be larger than customary, the general being charged with the care, the direction, the preservation of the men, rather than the internal police."

"Richmond, Virginia, October 20, 1861.

"General Beauregard, Manassas, Virginia.

"My Dear General:... Two rules have been applied in the projected reorganization of the Army of the Potomac:

"1. As far as practicable, to keep regiments from the same State together; 2. To assign generals to command the troops of their own State. I have not overlooked the objections to each, but the advantages are believed to outweigh the disadvantages of that arrangement. In distributing the regiments of the several States it would, I think, be better to place the regiments for the war in the same brigade of the State, and assign to those brigades the brigadiers whose services could least easily be dispensed with. For this, among other reasons, I will mention but one: the commission of a brigadier expires upon the breaking up of his brigade (see the law for their appointment). Of course, I would not for slight cause change the relations of troops and commanders, especially where it has been long continued and endeared by the trials of battle; but it is to be noted that the regiment was fixed as the unit of organization, and made the connecting link between the soldier and his home. Above that, all was subject to the discretion of the Confederate authorities, save the pregnant intimation in relation to the distribution of generals among the several States. It was generous and confiding to surrender entirely to the Confederacy the appointment of generals, and it is the more incumbent on me to carry out as well as may be the spirit of the volunteer system."

"Richmond, May 10, 1862.

"General J. E. Johnston.

"... Your attention has been heretofore called to the law in relation to the organization of brigades and divisions—orders were long since given to bring the practice and the law into conformity. Recently reports have been asked for from the commanders of separate armies as to the composition of their respective brigades and divisions. I have been much harassed, and the public interest has certainly suffered, by the delay to place the regiments of some of the States in brigades together, it being deemed that unjust discrimination was made against them, and also by the popular error which has existed as to the number of brigadiers to which appointments could be specially urged on the grounds of residence. While some have expressed surprise at my patience when orders to you were not observed, I have at least hoped that you would recognize the desire to aid and sustain you, and that it would produce the corresponding action on your part. The reasons formerly offered have one after another disappeared, and I hope you will, as you can, proceed to organize your troops as heretofore instructed, and that the returns will relieve us of the uncertainty now felt as to the number and relations of the troops, and the commands of the officers having brigades and divisions.... I will not dwell on the lost opportunity afforded along the line of northern Virginia, but must call your attention to the present condition of affairs and probable action of the enemy, if not driven from his purpose to advance on the Fredericksburg route....

"Very truly yours,

"Jefferson Davis."

On the 26th of May General Johnston's attention was again called to the organization of the ten Mississippi regiments into two brigades, and was reminded that the proposition had been made to him in the previous autumn, with an expression of my confidence that the regiments would be more effective in battle if thus associated.

I will now proceed to notice the allegation that I was responsible for inaction by the Army of the Potomac, in the latter part of 1861 and in the early part of 1862. After the explosion of the fallacy that I had prevented the pursuit of the enemy from Manassas in July, 1861, my assailants have sought to cover their exposure by a change of time and place, locating their story at Fairfax Court-House, and dating it in the autumn of 1861.

When at that time and place I met General Johnston for conference, he called in the two generals next in rank to himself, Beauregard and G. W. Smith. The question for consideration was, What course should be adopted for the future action of the army? and the preliminary inquiry by me was as to the number of the troops there assembled. To my surprise and disappointment, the effective strength was stated to be but little greater than when it fought the battle of the 21st of the preceding July. The frequent reenforcements which had been sent to that army in nowise prepared me for such an announcement. To my inquiry as to what force would be required for the contemplated advance into Maryland, the lowest estimate made by any of them was about twice the number there present for duty. How little I was prepared for such a condition of things will be realized from the fact that previous suggestions by the generals in regard to a purpose to advance into Maryland had induced me, when I went to that conference, to take with me some drawings made by the veteran soldier and engineer, Colonel Crozet, of the falls of the Potomac, to show the feasibility of crossing the river at that point. Very little knowledge of the condition and military resources of the country must have sufficed to show that I had no power to make such an addition to that army without a total disregard of the safety of other threatened positions. It only remained for me to answer that I had not power to furnish such a number of troops; and, unless the militia bearing their private arms should be relied on, we could not possibly fulfill such a requisition until after the receipt of the small-arms which we had early and constantly striven to procure from abroad, and had for some time expected.

After I had written the foregoing, and all the succeeding chapters on kindred subjects, a friend, in October, 1880, furnished me with a copy of a paper relating to the conference at Fairfax Court-House, which seems to require notice at my hands.

Therefore I break the chain of events to insert here some remarks in regard to it.

The paper appears to have been written by General G. W. Smith, and to have received the approval of Generals Beauregard and J. E. Johnston, and to bear date the 31st of January, 1862.

It does not agree in some respects with my memory of what occurred, and is not consistent with itself. It was not necessary that I should learn in that interview the evil of inactivity. My correspondence of anterior date might have shown that I was fully aware of it, and my suggestions in the interview certainly did not look as if it was necessary to impress me with the advantage of action.

In one part of the paper it is stated that the reenforcements asked for were to be "seasoned soldiers," such as were there present, and who were said to be in the "finest fighting condition." This, if such a proposition had been made, would have exposed its absurdity, as well as the loophole it offered for escape, by subsequently asserting that the troops furnished were not up to the proposed standard.

In another part of the paper it is stated that there were hope and expectation that, before the end of the winter, arms would be introduced into the country, and that then we could successfully invade that of the enemy; but this supply of arms, however abundant, could not furnish "seasoned soldiers," and the two propositions are therefore inconsistent. In one place it is written that "it was felt it might be better to run the risk of almost certain destruction fighting upon the other side of the Potomac, rather than see the gradual dying out and deterioration of this army during a winter," etc.; but, when it was proposed to cross into eastern Maryland on a steamer in our possession for a partial campaign, difficulties arose like the lion in the path of the sluggard, so that the proposition was postponed and never executed. In like manner the other expedition in the Valley of Virginia was achieved by an officer not of this council, General T. J. Jackson.

In one place it is written that the President stated, "At that time no reenforcements could be furnished to the army of the character asked for." In another place he is made to say he could not take any troops from the points named, and, "without arms from abroad, could not reenforce that army." Here, again, it is clear from the answer that the proposition had been for such reenforcement as additional arms would enable him to give. Those arms he expected to receive, barring the dangers of the sea, and of the enemy, which obstacles alone prevented the "positive assurance that they would be received at all."

It was, as stated, with deep regret and bitter disappointment that I found, notwithstanding our diligent efforts to reenforce this army before and after the battle of Manassas, that its strength had but little increased, and that the arms of absentees and discharged men were represented by only twenty-five hundred on hand. I can not suppose that General Johnston could have noticed the statement that his request for conference had set forth the object of it to be to discuss the question of reenforcement. He would have known that in Richmond, where all the returns were to be found, any consideration of reenforcement, by the withdrawal of troops from existing garrisons, could best be decided. Very little experience or a fair amount of modesty without any experience would serve to prevent one from announcing his conclusion that troops could be withdrawn from a place or places without knowing how many were there, and what was the necessity for their presence.

I was at the conference by request; the confidence felt in those officers is shown by the fact that I met them alone, and did not require any minutes to be made of the meeting. About four months afterward a paper was prepared to make a record of the conversation; the fact was concealed from me, whereas, both for accuracy and frankness, it should have been submitted to me, even if there had been nothing due to our official relations. Twenty years after the event, I learned of this secret report, by one party, without notice having been given to the other, of a conversation said to have lasted two hours.

I have noticed the improbabilities and inconsistencies of the paper, and, without remark, I submit to honorable men the concealment from me in which it was prepared, whereby they may judge of the chances for such co-intelligence as needs must exist between the Executive and the commanders of armies to insure attainable success.

The position at Fairfax Court-House, though it would answer very well as a point from which to advance, was quite unfavorable for defense; and when I so remarked, the opinion seemed to be that to which the generals had previously arrived. It, therefore, only remained to consider what change of position should be made in the event of the enemy threatening soon to advance. But in the mean time I hoped that something could be done by detachments from the army to effect objects less difficult than an advance against his main force, and particularly indicated the lower part of Maryland, where a small force was said to be ravaging the country and oppressing our friends. This, I thought, might be feasible by the establishment of a battery near to Acquia Creek, where the channel of the Potomac was said to be so narrow that our guns could prevent the use of the river by the enemy's boats, and, by employing a steamboat lying there, troops enough could be sent over some night to defeat that force, and return before any large body could be concentrated against them. The effect of the battery and of the expedition, it was hoped, would be important in relieving our friends and securing recruits from those who wished to join us. Previously, General Johnston's attention had been called to possibilities in the Valley of the Shenandoah, and that these and other like things were not done, was surely due to other causes than "the policy of the Administration," as will appear by the letters hereto annexed:

"Richmond, Virginia, August 1, 1861.

"General J. E. Johnston:

"... General Lee has gone to western Virginia, and I hope may be able to strike a decisive blow in that quarter, or, failing in that, will be able to organize and post our troops so as to check the enemy, after which he will return to this place.

"The movement of Banks will require your attention. It may be a ruse, but, if a real movement, when your army has the requisite strength and mobility, you will probably find an opportunity, by a rapid movement through the passes, to strike him in rear or flank, and thus add another to your many claims to your country's gratitude.... We must be prompt to avail ourselves of the weakness resulting from the exchange of the new and less reliable forces of the enemy, for those heretofore in service, as well as of the moral effect produced by their late defeat....

"I am, as ever, your friend,

"Jefferson Davis."

From the correspondence which occurred after the conference at Fairfax Court-House, I select a reply made to General Smith, who had written to me in advocacy of the views he had then expressed about large reenforcements to the Army of the Potomac, for an advance into Maryland. Nothing is more common than that a general, realizing the wants of the army with which he is serving, and the ends that might be achieved if those wants were supplied, should overlook the necessities of others, and accept rumors of large forces which do not exist, and assume the absence of danger elsewhere than in his own front.

"Richmond, Virginia, October 10, 1861.

"Major-General G. W. Smith, Army of the Potomac.

"... Your remarks about the moral effect of repressing the hope of the volunteers for an advance are in accordance with the painful impression made on me when, in our council, it was revealed to me that the Army of the Potomac had been reduced to about one half the legalized strength, and that the arms to restore the numbers were not in depot. As I there suggested, though you may not be able to advance into Maryland and expel the enemy, it may be possible to keep up the spirits of your troops by expeditions such as that particularly spoken of against Sickles's brigade on the lower Potomac, or Banks's above. By destroying the canal and making other rapid movements wherever opportunity presents, to beat detachments or to destroy lines of communication....

"Very truly, your friend,

"Jefferson Davis".

"Richmond, Virginia, November 18, 1861.

"General J. E. Johnston.

"... If a large force should be landed on the Potomac below General Holmes, with the view to turn or to attack him, the value of the position between Dumfries and Fredericksburg will be so great that I wish you to give to that line your personal inspection. With a sufficient force, the enemy may be prevented from leaving his boats, should he be able to cross the river. To make our force available at either of the points which he may select, it will be necessary to improve the roads connecting the advance posts with the armies of the Potomac and of the Acquia, as well as with each other, and to have the requisite teams to move heavy guns with celerity....

"Very respectfully yours,

"Jefferson Davis."

In November, 1861, reports became current that the enemy were concentrating troops west of the Valley of the Shenandoah with a view to a descent upon it. That vigilant, enterprising, and patriotic soldier, General T. J. Jackson, whose steadiness under fire at the first battle of Manassas had procured for him the sobriquet of "Stonewall," was then on duty as district commander of the Shenandoah Valley.

He was a West Virginian; and, though he had not acquired the fame which subsequently shed such luster upon his name, he possessed a well-deserved confidence among the people of that region. Ever watchful and daring in the discharge of any duty, he was intensely anxious to guard his beloved mountains of Virginia. This, stimulating his devotion to the general welfare of the Confederacy, induced him to desire to march against the enemy, who had captured Romney. On the 20th of November, 1861, he wrote to the War Department, proposing an expedition to Romney, in western Virginia. It was decided to adopt his proposition, endorsed by the commander of the department, and, further to insure success, though not recommended in the endorsement, his old brigade, then in the Army of the Potomac, was selected as a part of the command with which he was to make the campaign. General Johnston remonstrated against this transfer, and the correspondence is subjoined for a fuller understanding of the matter:

"Headquarters, Valley District, November 20, 1861.

"Hon. J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of War.

"Sir: I hope you will pardon me for requesting that, at once, all the troops under General Loring be ordered to this point. Deeply impressed with the importance of absolute secrecy respecting military operations, I have made it a point to say but little respecting my proposed movements in the event of sufficient reenforcements arriving, but, since conversing with Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. T. Preston upon his return from General Loring, and ascertaining the disposition of the General's forces, I venture to respectfully urge that, after concentrating all his troops here, an attempt should be made to capture the Federal forces at Romney. The attack on Romney would probably induce McClellan to believe that the Army of the Potomac had been so weakened as to justify him in making an advance on Centreville; but, should this not induce him to advance, I do not believe anything will during the present winter. Should the Army of the Potomac be attacked, I would be at once prepared to reenforce it with my present volunteer force, increased by General Loring's. After repulsing the enemy at Manassas, let the troops that marched on Romney return to the Valley and move rapidly westward to the waters of the Monongahela and Little Kanawha. Should General Kelley be defeated, and especially should he be captured, I believe that, by a judicious disposition of the militia, a few cavalry, and a small number of field-pieces, no additional forces would be required for some time in this district. I deem it of very great importance that northwestern Virginia be occupied by Confederate troops this winter. At present, it is to be presumed that the enemy are not expecting an attack there, and the resources of that region necessary for the subsistence of our troops are in greater abundance than in almost any other season of the year. Postpone the occupation of that section until spring, and we may expect to find the enemy prepared for us, and the resources to which I have referred greatly exhausted. I know that what I have proposed will be an arduous undertaking, and can not be accomplished without the sacrifice of much personal comfort, but I feel that the troops will be prepared to make this sacrifice when animated by the prospects of important results to our cause and distinction to themselves. It may be urged, against this plan, that the enemy will advance on Staunton or Huntersville. I am well satisfied that such a step would but make their destruction more certain. Again, it may be said that General Floyd will be cut off. To avoid this, if necessary, the General has only to fall back toward the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. When northwestern Virginia is occupied in force, the Kanawha Valley, unless it be the lower part of it, must be evacuated by the Federal forces, or otherwise their safety will be endangered by forcing a column across from the Little Kanawha between them and the Ohio River. Admitting that the season is too far advanced, or that from other causes all can not be accomplished that has been named, yet, through the blessing of God, who has thus far so wonderfully prospered our cause, much more may be expected from General Loring's troops, according to this programme, than can be expected from them where they are. If you decide to order them here, I trust that, for the purpose of saving time, all the infantry, cavalry, and artillery will be directed to move immediately upon the reception of the order. The enemy, about five thousand strong, have been for some time slightly fortifying at Romney, and have completed their telegraph from that place to Green Spring Depot. Their forces at and near Williamsport are estimated as high as five thousand, but as yet I have no reliable information of their strength beyond the Potomac. Your most obedient servant,

"T. J. Jackson, Major-General, P. A. C. S."

"Headquarters, Centreville, November 21, 1861.

"Respectfully forwarded. I submit that the troops under General Loring might render valuable services by taking the field with General Jackson, instead of going into winter-quarters, as now proposed.

"J. E. Johnston, General."

"Headquarters, Centreville, November 22, 1861.

"General Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General.

"Sir: I have received Major-General Jackson's plan of operations in his district, for which he asks for reenforcements. It seems to me that he proposes more than can well be accomplished in that high, mountainous country at this season. If the means of driving the enemy from Romney (preventing the reconstruction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and incursions by marauders into the counties of Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan) can be supplied to General Jackson, and with them those objects, accomplished, we shall have reason to be satisfied, so far as the Valley district is concerned. The wants of other portions of the frontier—Acquia district, for instance—make it inexpedient, in my opinion, to transfer to the Valley district so large a force as that asked for by Major-General Jackson. It seems to me to be now of especial importance to strengthen Major-General Holmes, near Acquia Creek. The force there is very small, compared with the importance of the position. Your obedient servant,

"J. E. Johnston, General.

"[Endorsement.]

"Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War:

"S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General.

"November 25, 1861."

"Richmond, Virginia, November 10, 1861.

"General J. E. Johnston, Manassas, Virginia.

"Sir: The Secretary of War has this morning laid before me yours of the 8th instant. I fully sympathize with your anxiety for the Army of the Potomac. If indeed mine be less than yours, it can only be so because the south, the west, and the east, presenting like cause for solicitude, have in the same manner demanded my care. Our correspondence must have assured you that I fully concur in your view of the necessity for unity in command, and I hope by a statement of the case to convince you that there has been no purpose to divide your authority by transferring the troops specified in order No. 206 from the center to the left of your department. The active campaign in the Greenbrier region was considered as closed for the season. There is reason to believe that the enemy is moving a portion of his forces from that mountain-region toward the Valley of Virginia, and that he has sent troops and munitions from the east by the way of the Potomac Canal toward the same point. The failure to destroy his communications by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and by the Potomac Canal has left him in possession of great advantages for that operation. General Jackson, for reasons known to you, was selected to command the division of the Valley, but we had only the militia and one mounted regiment within the district assigned to him. The recent activity of the enemy, the capture of Romney, etc., required that he should have for prompt service a body of Confederate troops to cooeperate with the militia of that district. You suggest that such force should be drawn from the army at the Greenbrier; this was originally considered, and abandoned, because they could not reach him in time to anticipate the enemy's concentration, and also because General Jackson was a stranger to them, and time was wanting for the growth of that confidence between the commander and his troops, the value of which need not be urged upon you. We could have sent to him from this place an equal number of regiments, being about double the numerical strength of those specified in the order referred to, but they were parts of a brigade now in the Army of the Potomac, or were southern troops, and were ignorant of the country in which they were to serve, and all of them unknown to General Jackson. The troops sent were his old brigade, had served in the Valley, and had acquired a reputation which would give confidence to the people of that region upon whom the General had to rely for his future success. Though the troops sent to you are, as you say, 'raw,' they have many able officers, and will, I doubt not, be found reliable in the hour of danger. Their greater numbers will to you, I hope, more than compensate for the experience of those transferred; while, in the Valley, the latter, by the moral effect their presence will produce, will more than compensate for the inferiority of their numbers. I have labored to increase the Army of the Potomac, and, so far from proposing a reduction of it, did not intend to rest content with an exchange of equivalents. In addition to the troops recently sent to you, I expected soon to send further reenforcements by withdrawing a part of the army from the Greenbrier Mountains. I have looked hopefully forward to the time when our army could assume the offensive, and select the time and place where battles were to be fought, so that ours should be alternations of activity and repose, theirs the heavy task of constant watching. When I last visited your headquarters, my surprise was expressed at the little increase of your effective force above that of the 21st of July last, notwithstanding the heavy reenforcements which, in the mean time, had been sent to you. Since that visit I have frequently heard of the improved health of the troops, of the return of many who had been absent sick; and some increase has been made by reenforcements. You can, then, imagine my disappointment at the information you give, that, on the day before the date of your letter, the army at your position was yet no stronger than on the 21st of July. I can only repeat what has been said to you in our conference at Fairfax Court-House, that we are restricted in our capacity to reenforce by the want of arms. Troops to bear the few arms you have in store have been ordered forward. Your view of the magnitude of the calamity of defeat of the Army of the Potomac is entirely concurred in, and every advantage which is attainable should be seized to increase the power of your present force. I will do what I can to augment its numbers, but you must remember that our wants greatly exceed our resources.

"Banks's brigade, we learn, has left the position occupied when I last saw you. Sickles is said to be yet in the lower Potomac, and, when your means will enable you to reach him, I still hope he may be crushed.

"I will show this reply to the Secretary of War, and hope there will be no misunderstanding between you in future. The success of the army requires harmonious cooeperation.

"Very respectfully, etc.,

"Jefferson Davis."

After General Jackson commenced his march, the cold became unexpectedly severe, and, as he ascended into the mountainous region, the slopes were covered with ice, which impeded his progress, the more because his horses were smooth-shod; but his tenacity of purpose, fidelity, and daring, too well known to need commendation, triumphed over every obstacle, and he attained his object, drove the enemy from Romney and its surroundings, took possession of the place, and prevented the threatened concentration. Having accomplished this purpose, and being assured that the enemy had abandoned that section of country, he returned with his old brigade to the Valley of the Shenandoah, leaving the balance of his command at Romney. General Loring, the senior officer there present, and many others of the command so left, appealed to the War Department to be withdrawn. Their arguments were, as well as I remember, these: that the troops, being from the South, were unaccustomed to, and unprepared for, the rigors of a mountain winter; that they were strangers to the people of that section; that the position had no military strength, and, at the approach of spring, would be accessible to the enemy by roads leading from various quarters.

After some preliminary action, an order was issued from the War Office directing the troops to retire to the Valley. As that order has been the subject of no little complaint, both by civil and military functionaries, my letter to the General commanding the department, in explanation of the act of the Secretary of War, is hereto annexed:

"Richmond, Virginia, February 14, 1862.

"General J. E. Johnston, commanding Department of Northern Virginia, Centreville, Virginia.

"General: I have received your letter of the 5th instant. While I admit the propriety in all cases of transmitting orders through you to those under your command, it is not surprising that the Secretary of War should, in a case requiring prompt action, have departed from this, the usual method, in view of the fact that he had failed more than once in having his instructions carried out when forwarded to you in the proper manner. You will remember that you were directed, on account of the painful reports received at the War Department in relation to the command at Romney, to repair to that place, and, after the needful examination, to give the orders proper in the case. You sent your adjutant- (inspector?) general, and I am informed that he went no farther than Winchester, to which point the commander of the expedition had withdrawn; leaving the troops, for whom anxiety had been excited, at Romney. Had you given your personal attention to the case, you must be assured that the confidence reposed in you would have prevented the Secretary from taking any action before your report had been received. In the absence of such security, he was further moved by what was deemed reliable information, that a large force of the enemy was concentrating to capture the troops at Romney, and by official report that place had no natural strength and little strategic importance. To insure concert of action in the defense of our Potomac frontier, it was thought best to place all the forces for this object under one command. The reasons which originally induced the adding of the Valley district to your department exist in full force at present, and I can not, therefore, agree to its separation from your command.

"I will visit the Army of the Potomac as soon as other engagements will permit, although I can not realize your complimentary assurance that great good to the army will result from it; nor can I anticipate the precise time when it will be practicable to leave my duties here.

"Very respectfully and truly yours,

"Jefferson Davis."

To complaints by General Johnston that the discipline of his army was interfered with by irregular action of the Secretary of War, and its numerical strength diminished by furloughs granted directly by the War Department, I replied, after making inquiry at the War Office, by a letter, a copy of which is hereto annexed:

"Richmond, Virginia, March 4, 1862.

"General J. E. Johnston, Centreville, Virginia.

"Dear Sir: Yours of the 1st instant received prompt attention, and I am led to the conclusion that some imposition has been practiced upon you. The Secretary of War informs me that he has not granted leaves of absence or furloughs to soldiers of your command for a month past, and then only to divert the current which threatened by legislation to destroy your army by a wholesale system of furloughs. Those which you inform me are daily received must be spurious. The authority to reenlist and change from infantry to artillery, the Secretary informs me, has been given but in four cases—three on the recommendation of General Beauregard, and specially explained to you some time since; the remaining case was that of a company from Wheeling, which was regarded as an exceptional one. I wish, therefore, that you would send to the Adjutant-General the cases of recent date in which the discipline of your troops has been interfered with in the two methods stated, so that an inquiry may be made into the origin of the papers presented. The law in relation to reenlistment provides for reorganization, and was under the policy of electing the officers.

"The concession to army opinions was limited to the promotion by seniority after the organization of the companies and regiments had been completed. The reorganization was not to occur before the expiration of the present term. A subsequent law provides for filling up the twelve months' companies by recruits for the war, but the organization ceases with the term of the twelve months' men. Be assured of readiness to protect your proper authority, and I do but justice to the Secretary of War in saying that he can not desire to interfere with the discipline and organization of your troops. He has complained that his orders are not executed, and I regret that he was able to present to me so many instances to justify that complaint, which were in no wise the invasion of your prerogative as a commander in the field.

"You can command my attention at all times to any matter connected with your duties, and I hope that full co-intelligence will secure full satisfaction. Very truly yours,

"Jefferson Davis."

A fortnight after this letter, I received from General Johnston notice that his position was considered unsafe. Many of his letters to me have been lost, and I have thus far not been able to find the one giving the notice referred to, but the reply which is annexed clearly indicates the substance of the letter which was answered.

"Richmond, Virginia, February 28, 1862.

"General J. E. Johnston: ... Your opinion that your position may be turned whenever the enemy chooses to advance, and that he will be ready to take the field before yourself, clearly indicates prompt effort to disencumber yourself of everything which would interfere with your rapid movement when necessary, and such thorough examination of the country in your rear as would give you exact knowledge of its roads and general topography, and enable you to select a line of greater natural advantages than that now occupied by your forces.

"The heavy guns at Manassas and Evansport, needed elsewhere, and reported to be useless in their present position, would necessarily be abandoned in any hasty retreat. I regret that you find it impossible to move them.

"The subsistence stores should, when removed, be placed in positions to answer your future wants. Those can not be determined until you have furnished definite information as to your plans, especially the line to which you would remove in the contingency of retiring. The Commissary-General had previously stopped further shipments to your army, and given satisfactory reasons for the establishment at Thoroughfare.[191] ...

"I need not urge on your consideration the value to our country of arms and munitions of war: you know the difficulty with which we have obtained our small supply; that, to furnish heavy artillery to the advanced posts, we have exhausted the supplies here which were designed for the armament of the city defenses. Whatever can be, should be done to avoid the loss of these guns....

"As has been my custom, I have only sought to present general purposes and views. I rely upon your special knowledge and high ability to effect whatever is practicable in this our hour of need. Recent disasters have depressed the weak, and are depriving us of the aid of the wavering. Traitors show the tendencies heretofore concealed, and the selfish grow clamorous for local and personal interests. At such an hour, the wisdom of the trained and the steadiness of the brave possess a double value. The military paradox that impossibilities must be rendered possible, had never better occasion for its application.

"The engineers for whom you asked have been ordered to report to you, and further additions will be made to your list of brigadier-generals. Let me hear from you often and fully.

"Very truly and respectfully yours,

"Jefferson Davis."

"Richmond, Virginia, March 6, 1862.

"General J. E. Johnston:... Notwithstanding the threatening position of the enemy, I infer from your account of the roads and streams that his active operations must be for some time delayed, and thus I am permitted to hope that you will be able to mobilize your army by the removal of your heavy ordnance and such stores as are not required for active operations, so that, whenever you are required to move, it may be without public loss and without impediment to celerity. I was fully impressed with the difficulties which you presented when discussing the subject of a change of position. To preserve the efficiency of your army, you will, of course, avoid all needless exposure; and, when your army has been relieved of all useless encumbrance, you can have no occasion to move it while the roads and the weather are such as would involve serious suffering, because the same reasons must restrain the operations of the enemy....

"Very respectfully yours,

"Jefferson Davis."

At the conference at Fairfax Court-House, heretofore referred to, I was sadly disappointed to find that the strength of that army had been little increased, notwithstanding the reenforcements sent to it since the 21st of July, and that to make an advance the generals required an additional force, which it was utterly impracticable for me to supply. Soon thereafter the army withdrew to Centreville, a better position for defense but not for attack, and thereby suggestive of the abandonment of an intention to advance. The subsequent correspondence with General Johnston during the winter expressed an expectation that the enemy would resume the offensive, and that the position then held was geographically unfavorable. There was a general apprehension at Richmond that the northern frontier of Virginia would be abandoned, and a corresponding earnestness was exhibited to raise the requisite force to enable our army to take the offensive. On the 10th of March I telegraphed to General Johnston: "Further assurance given to me this day that you shall be promptly and adequately reenforced, so as to enable you to maintain your position, and resume first policy when the roads will permit." The first policy was to carry the war beyond our own border.

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