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[167] thirty miles distant on his right, to form a junction with him at Manassas. And it must be remembered, that General Beauregard's forces at that moment numbered about eighteen thousand men, while those of General McDowell, at and advancing on Fairfax Court-House, amounted to some forty thousand. And it was only because General Beauregard's sagacious strategy forced the enemy to follow General Bonham in his preconcerted retreat to Mitchell's Ford, the only strong point of General Beauregard's defensive line, that he was enabled to defeat McDowell on the 18th, and hold him in check until the 20th, when General Holmes joined his forces with General Beauregard's, and General Johnston arrived with part of his own, the other and larger portion of which only reached the point of concentration about 3 P. M. on the 21st, while the battle was in fierce progress and we were near being overpowered. Procrastination and hesitation are always fatal to military success. It is through waiting for the enemy to develop his plans that great battles and great opportunities in war are lost. Two days after forwarding his letter to the Richmond Whig— to wit, on November the 5th—General Beauregard addressed a communication to the President, accepting his assurance that the Secretary of War had meant no offence by his previous communications, but protesting that the latter should not call his motives into question, and, when seeking to point out errors, should do it in a more becoming tone and style. Alluding to the reference made by Mr. Davis to the ‘technical lawyer,’ He expressed his concern lest Mr. Benjamin, following the professional bent of his mind, would view only the legal aspect of things, and insensibly put both the army and himself into the ‘strait jackets’ of the law.

Mr. Davis, with the tenacity which characterized his whole career as President, would not admit that the Secretary whom he had selected could, under any circumstances, commit an error or impropriety. And the injudicious support he had given, before, to Colonel Northrop, he now, but more directly, bestowed upon Mr. Benjamin, careless of the wide-spread evils which might result from such an act. If he did not prompt the course of Mr. Benjamin,1 he openly interposed himself to soothe the exaggerated susceptibilities

1 The Hon. L. P. Walker, of Alabama, being a civilian, without knowledge of army matters, accepted the position of Secretary of War, with the express understanding that President Davis, who had been Secretary of War under President Pierce, should direct the affairs of the office. Doubtless, Mr. Benjamin filled the post in the same way.

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