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[154]

On the 6th, Major-General Mansfield Lovell, who had joined the Southern cause, and had just been commissioned in the Provisional Army, came to Fairfax Court-House, requesting General Beauregard's counsel with regard to the defense of New Orleans, whither he had been ordered by the War Department. This counsel General Beauregard gave him with great care and much minuteness. It is proper here to state, that, during the recent visit of President Davis to Fairfax Court-House, the subject of the unprotected condition of New Orleans having arisen, General Beauregard, expressing his regret that the Military Board of Louisiana had taken no action as to the suggestions he had made to them, in February, 1861, again strongly urged his views about constructing floating booms between Forts Jackson and St. Philip, to obstruct the passage of a Federal fleet, should such be attempted. The President gave but little weight to these suggestions, and appeared to have no apprehension as to the safety of that city.

In his interview with General Lovell, General Beauregard emphasized, both orally and in writing, the absolute necessity of such an obstruction, and hoped that General Lovell, who had approved of his system, would lose no time in putting it into operation. Later events showed, however, that the work was not constructed as planned and advised by General Beauregard, both in his conference with General Lovell and in his memoir to the Louisiana Military Board.1

A few days later, General Johnston, apprehending the approaching cold weather, proposed that the forces should now fall back and establish their winter quarters at Manassas. General Beauregard, whose arrangements for signal communication with Washington had been perfected, was reluctant to retire without a trial of their present opportunity against the enemy. But there was no way of avoiding the movement. General Beauregard, fearing the bad effect upon the army and the people of a retreat to the point held by us before our late victory, proposed Centreville instead of Manassas; and, to overcome the objection that the former place was somewhat commanded by a succession of heights too distant to be embraced within the Confederate line, he undertook himself to prepare its defences. The order to

1 See Chapter I., page 17, about obstructions and floating boom between Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

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