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[444] strength and excellence of the army, I urged, at Fairfax Court-House, that it should be increased by at least fifty per cent., and my only letter1 on the subject expressed the strongest dissatisfaction with the condition in numbers and discipline to which the army was reduced by the interference of the War Department with its interior management. The concentration of a vast amount of stores and material of war in and about Manassas was made by the Government itself against my repeated remonstrances,2 expressed through my proper staff-officer, Major R. G. Cole, chief commissary. Fifteen days were devoted by the army to the removal of the public property that had been recklessly collected at Manassas. It would have been very dangerous to the public safety to employ it longer in that way; for, on the eve of a formidable invasion, it was of great importance that it should be so placed as to be able to unite promptly with other available forces, to repel this invasion.

I indicated no intention to “fall back” before the “consultation” on the 20th of February. The condition of the country made military operations on a large scale impossible, so that the most timid could have imagined no cause for hasty retreat. And in the “consultation” later, when the country was somewhat less impracticable, I opposed3 any movement on account of the difficulty, which indicates that I could not have intended one when the difficulties would have been much greater.

1 See those especially of February 1st to the acting Secretary of War, page 91; and March 1st, to the President, page 100.

2 See note page 98, including Colonel Cole's letter of February 7th, 1871, and pages 104 and 105.

3 See fifth paragraph, page 106.

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