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[211]

Colonel Pryor gave many strong reasons for the transfer he had been sent to advocate, and mentioned, among others, the critical condition of affairs in that part of the country, owing, it was believed, to the bad organization and want of discipline of our troops, confronting whom were superior Federal forces known to be amply furnished with all the appliances of war. Well-founded fears of consequent disaster to the cause were very generally entertained, which, Colonel Pryor thought, could only be averted by prompt arid vigorous action on the part of the government.

General Beauregard at first declined to accede to the proposition. He was loath to separate himself from the Army of the Potomac, more than half of which he had organized and disciplined, and whose conduct in the battle of Manassas, and throughout the minor operations of the fall, gave assurance of still greater successes for the coming spring campaign. Moreover, he had just undergone a surgical operation of the throat, the result of which might lead to serious consequences, should he be too soon exposed to the inclemencies of the weather. But Colonel Pryor, notwithstanding the objections raised against the purpose of his mission, represented that General Beauregard's presence in the West was necessary to revive public confidence, then very much shaken by the defeat of Zollicoffer's command at Mill Spring, in eastern Kentucky, and that it would impart activity and efficiency to our operations. He also made a statement—the truth of which, he said, was vouched for by the Acting Secretary of War, Mr. Benjamin—that the effective force in General Johnston's department numbered fully seventy thousand men—forty thousand under General Johnston, in middle Kentucky, and the remainder under General Polk, in western Tennessee.

Meanwhile, many of General Beauregard's friends at Centreville and Richmond, aware of the efforts that were being made, sought to dissuade him from relinquishing his position in Virginia, and what was considered the chief field of operations of the Confederate forces. They argued, furthermore, that, should he consent to leave this army, he would never be allowed to return to it again, no matter upon what terms he might agree to accept the offer so alluringly presented to him. General Beauregard carefully weighed the strength of the arguments used on both sides. He knew that, owing to bad weather, impracticable roads, and other influences, there would probably be no military operations in

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G. T. Beauregard (4)
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