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[213] capture the force of Jackson and Ewell, either in co-operation with General Fremont, or alone. General McDowell's clear military judgment saw at once the injudiciousness of this order, which turned him from a point where he was greatly needed to a quarter where he could be of no use; and he instantly telegraphed back to the President's order the following reply, addressed to the Secretary of War:--
The President's order has been received, and is in process of execution. This is a crushing blow to us.

To this the President responded as follows, still on the same 24th of May:--

I am highly gratified by your alacrity in obeying my orders. The change was as painful to me as it can possibly be to you or to any one. Every thing now depends upon the celerity and vigor of your movements.

To this General McDowell made a reply in writing, of which the principal and material portion is as follows :--

Headquarters, Department of the Rappahannock, opposite Fredericksburg, May 24, 1862.
His Excellency the President:--
I obeyed your order immediately, for it was positive and urgent; and perhaps, as a subordinate, there I ought to stop; but I trust I may be allowed to say something in relation to the subject, especially in view of your remark that every thing depends upon the celerity and vigor of my movements. I beg to say that co-operation between General Fremont and myself, to cut off Jackson and Ewell, is not to be counted upon, even if it is not a practical


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