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[84] and with the aid of this battery the retreat from that point can be made slowly enough to give time for concentration on that line of the outlying companies in positions not threatened. In case a sharp resistance outside the city may fail to prevent the advance of the enemy, we can occupy the centers until the North shall have had time to come to our relief. All our information tends to show that the force of the enemy which can immediately act against the capital does not exceed five thousand organized men, and before that number can be largely increased our relief will come. These District of Columbia volunteers would be fighting in defense of their homes and would fight well.

After considering the plan outlined General Scott thus replied to Colonel Stone:

Your plan is good. Your pickets will have to fight well, and must not try to fall back more than fifteen paces at a time and to fire at least once at each halt. This requires good men and good, devoted officers. These soldiers of the District will probably fight as well in defense of their homes as the enemy in attacking them. But you have too many centers. You cannot hold three. You will need all your force concentrated to hold one position against an energetic force equal, or superior in numbers, to all you have. The first center to be abandoned must be the Capitol. It is a fire-proof building. There is little in it that is combustible excepting the libraries of Congress and the Supreme Court, and I do not believe that any Americans will burn public libraries and archives of courts of justice. The second center to be abandoned will be the City Hall hill. Finally, if necessary, all else must be abandoned to occupy, strongly and effectively, the Executive Square, with the idea of firmly holding only the Treasury building, and, perhaps, the State Department building, properly connected. The seals of the several departments of the Government must be deposited in the vaults of the Treasury. They must not be captured and used to deceive

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