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[34] whole force. The only question was, whether to attempt to defeat or to elude General Patterson. The latter, if practicable, was to be preferred, as quickest and safest. Stuart's first report was expected to give the means of judging of its practicability, while the troops were preparing to move. Although the Federal cavalry had greatly the advantage of the Confederate in arms and discipline, it was not in the habit, like ours, of leaving the protection of the infantry. This enabled Stuart to maintain his outposts near the enemy's camps, and his scouts near their columns, learning their movements quickly, and concealing our own.

Stuart's expected report showed that the Federal army had not advanced from Smithfield at nine o'clock. It was certainly too far from our road, therefore, to be able to prevent or delay our march. This information left no doubt of the expediency of moving as soon as possible.

The order to send the sick to Culpepper Court-House was not obeyed, because obedience would have caused a delay of several days, when hours were precious,1 for it would have involved their transportation in wagons eighteen miles to Strasburg, and

1 There were about seventeen hundred of them. In my report of the battle of Manassas, as published by the Administration, this sentence does not appear: “The delay of sending our sick, seventeen hundred in number, to Culpepper Court-House, would have made it impossible to arrive at Manassas in time; they were, therefore, provided for in Winchester.” And this one is in its place: “Our sick, seventeen hundred in number, were provided for in Winchester.” The original is in possession of the Government in Washington. In an indorsement on it, by Mr. Davis, I am accused of reporting his telegram to me inaccurately. I did not profess to quote his words, but to give their meaning, which was done correctly.

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J. E. B. Stuart (3)
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