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[77] Englishman whom he had sent into the enemy's lines had returned, giving him information of the number of rebel troops at Centreville, Richmond, Norfolk, etc.; and I inferred that Johnston, who commanded at Centreville, could have raised about 75,000 men to meet any attack which we might make within a moderate time.

Mr. Chase said very little, but what he did say left it plainly to be inferred that he thought that the army ought to be moved at once. General McDowell said that, in his opinion, the army ought to be formed into army corps, and that a vigorous movement in the direction of Centreville would enable us, he thought, to get into position by which we could cut the enemy's lines of communication, and that by the use of the railroad from Alexandria, and the connection of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad with those south of the river by a railroad over the. Long Bridge, large wagon trains would be avoided. He, however, did not know how long a time would be required to get ready to make the movement which he advocated. I said that I was ignorant of the things necessary to enable me to form a judgment on the subject, only knowing my own division, which was ready for the field. That I thought that the proper disposition to make of the Army of the Potomac was to transport it by the easiest and quickest route to York river, to operate against Richmond, leaving force enough to prevent any danger to Washington.

The Assistant Secretary of War thought that the transportation of this force in a reasonable time would be a very difficult work. As General McDowell and I both felt too ignorant of the proper state of the supply departments to justify us in speaking any more definitely, it was determined by the President that the same party should meet on the next evening at the same time, and that General McDowell and I should in the meantime get all the information from the chiefs of the various staff departments of the Army of the Potomac, as to their status with regard to a movement of the army within a short time. So on Saturday we met in the morning, and went to all of the chiefs of the staff departments, and obtained from them such information as to their departments as they could give us. We learned from Mr. Chase the destination of Burnside's expedition, which, until then, had been unknown to us, and he relieved our minds as to the apparent impropriety of our obtaining information from the chiefs of the staff departments without the authority of the commanding general, by reminding us that as we were acting by the direct orders of the President, we ought to execute those orders. He also told us what was McClellan's plan of operations for the Army of the Potomac. In the evening we again met at the White House. The party of

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