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[96] to command it. Many's, Bate's, and Vaughn's Tennessee regiments were transferred with him to that department. Major-General R. S. Ewell, just promoted, succeeded to the command of General E. K. Smith's division.

Soon after the middle of this month, I was summoned to Richmond by the President, who wished to confer with me on a subject in which secrecy was so important that he could not venture, he said, to commit it to paper, and the mail. I arrived in Richmond on the 20th, early enough to reach the President's office two hours before noon. The cabinet was in session, and I was summoned into the room. The President explained that he had sent for me to discuss the question of withdrawing the army to a less exposed position. I replied that, although the withdrawal of the army from Centreville would be necessary before McClellan's invasion, which might be expected as soon as the country should be in condition for the marching of armies, it was impossible then, without much suffering by the troops, and great sacrifice of military property, including baggage. On that account, I thought the measure should be postponed until the end of the winter, and represented that the artillery-horses could not then draw field-pieces with their ammunition-chests, nor loaded caissons. This brought on a long discussion of the best mode of bringing off the guns of the Evansport batteries, which prolonged the conference until near sunset. It terminated without the giving of orders, but with the understanding on my part that the army was to fall back as soon as practicable.

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