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[475] ? I am an enemy to much distribution of troops. May not yours be brought together-so posted, that is to say, that you may be able to assemble them all to oppose an enemy coming from Harper's Ferry, Williamsport, or the northwest?

Should the report given by General Hill prove to be correct, it would be imprudent, it seems to me, to keep your troops dispersed as they now are. Do you not think so The enemy might not only prevent yours concentrating, but interpose himself between us, which we must never permit.

Most respectfully, Your obedient servant, J. E. Johnston, General.

Headquarters Department of Northern Virginia, Centreville, January 29, 1862.
Colonel S. Bassett French, Aide-de-camp of Governor of Virginia. Sir:
Your letter of the 25th inst., in relation to arms, the property of the Commonwealth of Virginia, not in the hands of the troops of this army, and desiring me to take measures for their return to the State authorities so far as they can be found within this Department of the Army of the Confederate States, has been duly received.

I am sorry that I can afford little information and less aid in relation to the important and interesting object of your communication.

The troops under my command have generally come into my department with arms in their hands. I had and have no means of ascertaining by whom the arms were furnished. I understand that Virginia does not wish to reclaim arms now in actual use. As arms have become disposable by the deaths or discharges of soldiers, they have been withdrawn from my control under orders of the War Department of the Confederate States. These orders have been repeatedly issued by the Department and executed by me. Of late they have gone to the length of taking the arms of the sick. When removed from the army, the arms,


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