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[162] a covering force in front of the Virginia line of twenty-five thousand men would suffice. (Keyes, Heintzelman, and McDowell.) A total of forty thousand men for the defence of the city would suffice. (Sumner.)

This was assented to by General McClellan, and immediately communicated to the War Department; and on the same day the following reply was received:--

War Department, March 13, 1862.
The President, having considered the plan of operations agreed upon by yourself and the commanders of army corps, makes no objection to the same, but gives the following directions as to its execution:--

1. Leave such force at Manassas Junction as shall make it entirely certain that the enemy shall not repossess himself of that position and line of communication.

2. Leave Washington entirely secure.

3. Move the remainder of the force down the Potomac, choosing a new base at Fortress Monroe, or anywhere between here and there; or, at all events, move such remainder of the army at once in pursuit of the enemy by some route.

On the 14th day of March, General McClellan issued the following address to his soldiers:--

Headquarters, army of the Potomac, Fairfax Court-House, Va., March 14, 1862.
soldiers of tie army of the Potomac:--
For a long time I have kept you inactive, but not without a purpose. You were to be disciplined, armed,

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