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[243] are maxims observed by all governments-because the world has produced few men competent to command a large army when present with it, and none capable of directing the operations of one hundreds of miles off; still less one capable of doing both at the same time. My interpretation of the order in question was the only one consistent with the respect I entertained for the President's knowledge of military affairs, and therefore did not make me obnoxious to the rebuke expressed in every part of this letter. My belief that he was incapable of an absurdity too gross to have been committed by the government of any other civilized nation, certainly should not have brought upon me his harsh censure.

I hold now, as I did then, that it was quite immaterial whether or not my lawful authority extended over General Bragg's army when I was in Mississippi; for it was impossible for me to exercise it. I might have drawn troops from Tennessee to Mississippi. But the Executive knew that for months my opinion had been opposed to that, and I knew from the two dispatches of June 5th,1 one to Governor Pettus, the other 2 to me, that it thought that General Bragg could spare no more men, as I did.

The charge in paragraph XVI., that I abandoned my “duties as commanding general of a military district,” is utterly unfounded, unless the not doing3 what both the President and I thought ought not to be done constituted failure to discharge my duties.

1 See p. 213.

2 See p. 199.

3 Transferring troops from Bragg's army to Pemberton's in June.

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