distance in his front.
He also said that he had little confidence in the defensive works on the Cumberland
and Tennessee rivers
, to inspect, strengthen, and complete which he had recently ordered his Chief-Engineer
, Major J. F. Gilmer
, an officer of the old service, whose worth was about to be tested.
When thus made acquainted with the deplorable situation of the Western department, General Beauregard
, realizing to what an extent he had been misinformed, and how useless his presence would be to General Johnston
, under the existing circumstances, informed the latter that, in his opinion, he had best return at once to Virginia
, where an active campaign, in the early spring, was to be expected, and where he could be of more service to the cause than by remaining with a command which it was more than likely would be forced to stand passively on the defensive.
strenuously objected to his adopting such a course.
He urged that General Beauregard
's presence was most fortunate, and that his co-operation would be invaluable, not only in western Kentucky
and western Tennessee
, but in the whole Mississippi Valley.
Those who are well acquainted with General Beauregard
have often had occasion to note how largely the trait of selfforgetful-ness enters into his character.
He gave a strong proof of the fact on this occasion.
With much disinterestedness, he immediately offered to General Johnston
to waive his rank and, acting as his Chief-Engineer
, visit the various works and defences throughout the department, and make such suggestions for their improvement as his experience might dictate.
But General Johnston
was unwilling to accept so great a sacrifice, and insisted that General Beauregard
should go to Columbus
, there to ascertain, personally, the exact state of affairs, being convinced that, upon doing so, he would no longer hesitate to assume command.
So earnest and pressing was he on this point that General Beauregard
acceded to his wishes, and began making preparations to leave by the Louisville and Memphis Railroad.
It was his nearest route, but, unless he used all due diligence, might be closed to him by the destruction of the bridge over the Tennessee River
, should Fort Henry
fall into the hands of the enemy.
He delayed his departure, however, at General Johnston
's request, and on the 5th of February inspected with him all the works in and around Bowling Green
He found them to be very strong, and so stated