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[145] generally. In regard to attacking Sickles, it was stated in reply that, as the enemy controlled the river with their ships of war, it would be necessary for us to occupy two points on the river, one above and another below the point of crossing, that we might by our batteries prevent their armed vessels from interfering with the passage of the troops. In any case the difficulty of crossing large bodies over wide rivers, in the vicinity of an enemy, and then recrossing, made such expeditions hazardous; it was agreed, however, that if any opportunity should occur, offering reasonable chances of success, that the attempt would be made.

During this conference, or council, which lasted, perhaps, two hours, all was earnest, serious, deliberate; the impression made upon me was deep and lasting, and I am convinced that the foregoing statement is not only correct as far as it goes, but, in my opinion, it gives a fair idea of all that occurred at that time in regard to the question of our crossing the Potomac.

G. W. Smith, Maj.-Gen. C. S. A. Centreville, Va., January 31st, 1862. Signed in Triplicate.

Our recollections of that conference agree fully with this statement of General G. W. Smith.

G. T. Beauregard, Gen. C. S. A., J. E. Johnston, Gen. C. S. A. Centreville, Va., January 31st, 1862. Signed in Triplicate.

This is what took place at the Fairfax Court-House conference. It confirms what we have already stated at the beginning of the present chapter.

We now resume our review of Mr. Davis's remarks about it.

In that authoritative tone which ill befits him to-day, and frees from undue courtesy towards him those whom he so cavalierly misrepresents, Mr. Davis, with a view to impugn the veracity of the authors of the foregoing memorandum, writes as follows: ‘It does not agree in some respects with my memory of what occurred, and is not consistent with itself.’1 Not consistent, says Mr. Davis, ‘because in one part of the paper it is stated that the reinforcements asked for were to be “seasoned soldiers,” such as were there present;’ and in another part, ‘that he could not take any troops from the points named, and, without arms from abroad, could not reinforce that army.’2

Thereupon, and after propping up his premises to suit his purpose, Mr. Davis concludes that, clearly, from the answer he is said to have made to the three generals, ‘the proposition had been

1 ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,’ vol. i. p. 450.

2 Ibid. vol. i. p. 451.

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