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[101] upon by spurious orders; saying, in explanation: “The Secretary of War informs me that he has not granted leaves of absence or furloughs to soldiers of your command for a month past.” The adjutant-general, Major T. G. Rhett, to whom I read the letter on account of this statement, told me that a large package of the orders in question had been received by the mail in which that letter had come! Mr. Benjamin's removal from the War Department, soon after, implied that the President thought less poorly of my intelligence than the language of his letter indicated.

In writing to the President on the 22d of February, I had requested him to have the assignment of officers of engineers expedited; such an assignment had been applied for early in the month. Captain Powhatan Robinson reported to me, with three or four lieutenants, in the first two or three days of March. He was directed, with his party, to examine the two roads leading from our camps to the Rappahannock near the railroad-bridge. He reported, on the 6th, that they were practicable, but made difficult by deep mud. On the 7th he was sent to the Rappahannock, to have the railroad-bridge made practicable for wagons.

We had to regard four routes to Richmond as practicable for the Federal army: that chosen in the previous July; another east of the Potomac to the mouth of Potomac Creek, and thence by Fredericksburg; the third and fourth by water, the one to the Lower Rappahannock, the other to Fort Monroe; and from those points respectively by direct roads.

As the Confederate troops in Virginia were disposed,

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