that the effective strength of the army would be so increased as to justify us in assuming the offensive, If such a change of policy was to be adopted, there was no time to lose, for the end of the season for active operations was near.
I determined, therefore, to suggest it to the President
, in the hope that he might regard many of the troops stationed in unthreatened parts of country as available for such a purpose.
With that view the subject was put before him in a letter addressed by me to the Secretary of War
, on the 26th, in which it was proposed that the President
himself should come to the headquarters of the army, then at Fairfax Court-House, to decide this question, after conference with such officers as he might select, or send the Secretary of War
, or some other confidential officer.
preferred the former course, and came himself, promptly, arriving on the last day of September (I think). He had a conference of several hours on the matter in question, the evening of the next day, in General Beauregard
's quarters, with that officer, Major-General G. W. Smith
, and myself.
It was conceded that no decisive success could be gained by attacking General McClellan
's army in its position under the guns of a long line of forts.
It was agreed, too, that decisive action before the winter was important to us; for it was certain that without it, when the spring campaign opened, the effective strength of the United States army would be much increased by additional numbers and better discipline.
Ours, on the contrary, could not be materially increased; for the Confederacy
had no arms but those in the hands of the volunteers, and