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[550] these efforts, by extension to turn his right flank. After Grant's demonstration on the north side of the James by sending over Hancock's corps had been virtually abandoned by its withdrawal, Longstreet's corps, which had been sent to oppose it, remained for a long time on the north side of the James. Finally General Ewell with a few troops, the Richmond reserves, and a division of the navy under Admiral Semmes, held the river and land defenses on the east side of Richmond.

General A. R. Lawton, who had become the quartermaster general of the Confederate army, ably supported by Lewis E. Harvie, president of the Richmond and Danville Railroad, increased the carrying capacity of that line so as to compensate for our loss of the use of the Weldon Railroad. At the same time General St. John, chief of the commissariat, by energetic efforts and the use of the Virginia Canal, kept up the supplies of General Lee's army, so as to secure from him the complimentary acknowledgement, made about a month before the evacuation of Petersburg, that the army there had not been so well supplied for many months.

During the months of February and March, Lee's army was materially reduced by the casualties of battle and the frequency of absence without leave. I will not call these absentees deserters, because they did not leave to join the enemy, and again, because in some instances where the facts were fully developed, they had gone to their necessitous families with intent to return and resume their places in the line of battle. His cavalry force had also been diminished by the absence of General Hampton's division, to which permission had been given to go to their home, South Carolina, to get fresh horses, and also to fill up their ranks. Long, arduous, and distant service had rendered both necessary.

In the early part of March, as well as my memory can fix the date, General Lee held with me a long and free conference. He stated that the circumstances had forced on him the conclusion that the evacuation of Petersburg was but a question of time. He had early and fully appreciated the embarrassment which would result from losing the workshops and foundry at Richmond, which had been our main reliance for the manufacture and repair of arms as well as the preparation of ammunition. The importance of Richmond in this regard was, however, then less than it had been by the facilities which had been created for these purposes at Augusta, Selma, Fayetteville, and some smaller establishments; also by the progress which was being made for a large armory at Macon, Georgia. To my inquiry as to whether it would not be better to anticipate the necessity by withdrawing at once, he said

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