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[114]

The President, who had heard me with apparent interest, replied that the question was so important that he would hear it fully discussed before making his decision, and desired me to meet General Randolph (Secretary of War) and General Lee, in his office, at an appointed time, for the purpose; at my suggestion, he authorized me to invite Major-Generals Smith and Longstreet to the conference. I was confident of the support of the former, for at Fairfax Court-House and Centreville we had discussed the general question, and agreed that the Confederate Government ought to meet McClellan's invasion with all its available forces. In giving the invitation to General Smith, I explained to him the object of the conference, after which we agreed perfectly upon the course to be advocated.

The conference began more than an hour before noon, by my describing,1 at the President's request, General Magruder's defensive arrangements, as I had done to him, and representing that General McClellan's probable design of molesting our batteries at Gloucester Point and Yorktown, and turning our position by transporting his army up the river, could not be prevented, so that the adoption of a new plan was necessary.

Major-General Smith was then asked by the President to give his opinion, and suggested the course we had agreed upon: the assembling all the Confederate forces available for the purpose, near Richmond-Magruder's troops, and Huger's from Norfolk, to arrive among the last-and assail the Federal army when, following Magruder, it came within reach.

1 And exhibiting the memorandum in the Appendix.

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G. W. Smith (3)
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