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[217] could be easily turned and must fall by its own weight, and that the latter would become untenable also, should Grant's attack on Fort Henry succeed;1 that, therefore, he thought it urgently necessary to abandon Bowling Green, except as a point of observation, and concentrate as rapidly as possible all readily available troops upon Henry and Donelson, so as to force Grant into a battle in that quarter, with decisive odds against him, and the disadvantage of isolation from immediate support. This General Beauregard urged, not only as an essential measure towards regaining control of the Tennessee River, and maintaining that of the Cumberland, but as a means of placing our forces in a better position, with respect to the ultimate defence of Nashville, than that which they held at Bowling Green, which could not be looked upon as safe, on account of its being too salient, and too easily turned.2

General Johnston, although admitting the force of these observations, objected, substantially, that we were not in a condition to risk too much; that if we failed to defeat Grant, we might be crushed between his forces and those of Buell; that, even if victorious over Grant, our own forces would be more or less disorganized, and if Buell, crossing the Big Barren River, above Bowling Green, and then the Cumberland above Nashville, should place himself between us and this latter city, and force us back against the Tennessee River (then open to the Federal gunboats), without the means of crossing or of extricating ourselves therefrom, we would be destroyed or captured, Nashville would fall, and the whole Tennessee and Mississippi valleys would be left unprotected, except by the as yet ill-organized forces of General

1 At Centreville, Va., and before his transfer, General Beauregard, while examining the military situation in the West, had regarded the position of Forts Henry and Donelson as faulty, the true position for the works to defend these rivers being at an advanced point, where the streams approached each other within three miles; and this opinion he had expressed in a conversation on the subject with his Chief of Staff, Colonel Jordan, at Centreville. In his interview with General Cooper, some days later, in the Adjutant-General's office, at Richmond, Colonel Jordan laid before him these radical strategic defects in the Confederate positions at Bowling Green, Forts Henry and Donelson, and Columbus. General Cooper expressed himself as convinced of the truth of these observations, and asked Colonel Jordan to present General Beauregard's views to the President.

2 The development of this plan of operations was also explained to Colonel Jordan by General Beauregard, before his departure for the West.

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