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[168] of his Secretary of War, and sacrificed the feelings and pride of a general who enjoyed, as he well knew, the full confidence of both army and people.

We extract the following passages from his answer to General Beauregard:

Richmond, Va., November 10th, 1861.
General G. T. Beauregard:
Sir,—When I addressed you in relation to your complaint because of the letters written to you by Mr. Benjamin, Acting Secretary of War, it was hoped that you would see that you had misrepresented his expressions, and would be content.

* * * * * * * * *

I do not feel competent to instruct Mr. Benjamin in the matter of style; there are few whom the public would, probably, believe fit for that task. But the other point quoted from your letter presents matters for graver consideration, and it is that which induces me to reply. It cannot be peculiar to Mr. Benjamin to look at every exercise of official power in its legal aspect, and you surely did not intend to inform me that your army and yourself are outside of the limits of the law.

It is my duty to see that the laws are faithfully executed, and I cannot recognize the pretension of any one that their restraint is too narrow for him.

Very respectfully,


It was a polemic turn of words to give such meaning to General Beauregard's language as applied to the facts and to Mr. Davis's own suggestion about the ‘technical lawyer.’ Mr. Benjamin's possible merits as to ‘style’ were, then, of little moment to the public; the graver matter being that it was ‘peculiar’ to the Administrator of the War Department to be ‘a poor civilian who knows nothing about war,’ as he had regarded himself until clothed with the pretensions of office;1 and to make up for his lack of usefulness in that important seat, he was pleased to indulge in abstract and futile disquisitions. The least, though still great, harm of this peculiarity was the loss of time it occasioned, the weight it became upon the service, when pushed to the extent of

1 See letter of Mr. Benjamin to General Beauregard after the fall of Sumter, Chapter V.

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