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[388] sleep, with injunctions not to be waked except for some urgent cause. After he had been quiet for several hours, an officer called to see him, but the gentleman of the house told him of the General's wishes, and remarked, in the presence of his daughter, a grown young lady: “We must be careful of the health of our General. Much depends upon him, for I regard him as one of the pillars of the Confederacy.” “You had better call him one of its sleepers, father,” was the daughter's ready reply, which amused the General greatly when afterward told him.

With those familiar with the ability shown by General Breckinridge in the administration of the Department of Southwestern Virginia, it was not a matter of surprise when in Feburary early, or thereabouts, he was tendered the position of Secretary of War--its acceptance being strongly urged by General Lee in a private letter. Under the circumstances, he felt it his duty to accept — much dissatisfaction having been engendered against Mr. Seddon, whom he succeeded, and his popularity with the army and people being needed to buoy up the depressed feeling of the country. He accordingly repaired at once to Richmond — succeeded in command by General Echols--and at once entered upon the discharge of its duties. Without disparagement to any of the officers who had preceded him it may be said with truth that he was the only commander of the territory embraced in his Department who left it with improved reputation. General Lee, early in the war, periled the reputation which he brought to the service by his inability to hold the line taken by him. General Floyd, General Wise, General Loring and others successively retired from the command, unable to meet the expectations of the Department, or the people among whom they served; while Breckinridge was called to Richmond to receive the highest evidence of the confidence of the Government, and left the Department as popular with his troops and with the people as he ever was at home, in the height of his political success.

Of his after service little need be said. He served too short a time as Secretary of War, and at a period too critical, to afford him opportunity for demonstrating his superior fitness for the position.

It is not improbable that he would have proven unsuited continuous service as Secretary of War for a long period. He had not the elements for a bureau officer. He was good at the organization of an army, but his success in this, where he had the opportunity to practice it, arose from his thorough knowledge of the officers and men under him. Abstractly, he had not a taste for that

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