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[357] be recollected, visited Richmond by permission of the Northern Government, but was interdicted from holding direct intercourse with President Davis or any of his Cabinet, and he spent nearly two days of his time at my house, in Henrico. In point of fact, as the sequel will disclose, he was sent here (by Mr. Seward) with a view to make peace — in Seward's slang, “to save the life of the nation.” In the course of a day's discussion in my library, he asked me a great many questions; among others, the question:

Can you whip McClellan?

who was then lying with an army of two hundred thousand men within six miles of Richmond, confronted by General Lee.

I told him, in reply, that I felt sure we could and would, and if the Emperor of the French would open the ports and keep them open we would march to New York and not ask the loan of a man or a dollar. With great animation he sprang to his feet and said in French:

If such be the temper of your people, you are invincible. But why do you think you will whip McClellan?

I answered, “Because the President and General Lee tell me they believe we will.”

Then he added, “But do you know how many men are bearing upon Richmond?”

I replied, “The President thinks there are two hundred thousand. General Lee thinks not so many — but more than one hundred and fifty thousand.”

To which he replied, “They are both mistaken. There are two hundred and twenty-five thousand. General Burnside's force at Port Royal is a part of the force bearing upon Richmond — sent to Port Royal merely in the hope of inducing General Lee to detach a part of his army to meet it. I am just from the War Office, and have all the statistics here,” (holding up a paper which he drew from his pocket); but, he added, “Can't this war be stopped? Can't you come back under the old flag?”

I said, “I suppose that is impossible, for Mr. Seward would not permit us to do so without the abolition of slavery, and it would be useless to propose that to the men from the extreme South.”

To that he replied, “You are mistaken. If you will only return and acknowledge the flag, Mr. Seward will permit you to return without any conditions.”

“What!” said I, “with the institution of slavery?”

“Yes,” he said.

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