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 published about the agitation caused by my leaving the church during service were the creations of fertile imaginations. I went to my office and assembled the heads of departments and bureaus, as far as they could be found on a day when all the offices were closed, and gave the needful instructions for our removal that night, simultaneously with General Lee's withdrawal from Petersburg. The event was not unforeseen, and some preparation had been made for it, though, as it came sooner than was expected, there was yet much to be done. My own papers were disposed as usual for convenient reference in the transaction of current affairs, and as soon as the principal officers had left me the executive papers were arranged for removal. This occupied me and my staff until late in the afternoon. By this time the report that Richmond was to be evacuated had spread through the town, and many who saw me walking toward my residence left their houses to inquire whether the report was true. Upon my admission of the painful fact—qualified, however, by the expression of my hope that we would return under better auspices—the ladies especially, with generous sympathy and patriotic impulse, responded, ‘If the success of the cause requires you to give up Richmond, we are content.’ The affection and confidence of these noble people in the hour of disaster were more distressing to me than complaint and unjust censure would have been. In view of the diminishing resources of the country on which the Army of Northern Virginia relied for supplies, I had urged the policy of sending families as far as practicable to the south and west, and had set the example by requiring my own to go. If it was practicable and desirable to hold the south side of the James, then, even for merely material considerations, it was important to hold Richmond, and this could best have been done if there had been none there save those who could aid in its defense. If it was not practicable and desirable to hold the south side of the James, then Richmond would be isolated, and if it could have been defended, its depots, foundries, workshops, and mills could have contributed nothing to the armies outside, and its possession would no longer have been to us of military importance. Ours being a struggle for existence, the indulgence of sentiment would have been misplaced. Being alone in Richmond, the few arrangements needful for my personal wants were made soon after reaching home. Then, leaving all else in care of the housekeeper, I waited until notified of the time when the train would depart; then, going to the station, I started for
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