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[82]

The Texan Brigade, ever after so distinguished in the Army of Northern Virginia, had then been completed by Brigadier-General Wigfall.

A trifling circumstance that occurred at this time was the foundation of a grave accusation, said to have been frequently made against me orally, by Mr. Benjamin, then acting Secretary of War.

Major-General Van Dorn reported to me that he had information, from an excellent source, that the left Federal division (General Heintzelman) had advanced so far on the Occoquan road as to be entirely separated from the army-so far that it might be beaten by a prompt attack, before aid could reach it. He proposed that we should take advantage of this exposure, and attack it. I had daily intelligence that contradicted this, but desired General Van Dorn to send one of our best scouts, who belonged to his division, to obtain accurate information, promising that he should make the attempt he suggested should the intelligence brought justify it. A day or two after this General Van Dorn told me that the scout's report had satisfied him that the report he had previously made to me was incorrect, and that there had been no forward movement of the Federal left. Gentlemen coming to the army from Richmond, at different times during the earlier part of the winter, stated that the acting Secretary of War had repeatedly, in conversation, accused me of having neglected to destroy a body of some twelve thousand men which the Federal general had left long exposed. This charge had no better foundation than the incidents just related.

At the end of November the “effective total” of

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Occoquan River (Virginia, United States) (1)

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E. Van Dorn (3)
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