General Johnston, being then busy with the evacuation of Bowling Green, informed General Beauregard, by messenger, that he would confer with him at Nashville upon his arrival there. He established his headquarters at Edgefield, opposite Nashville, on the 13th, and the next day the two generals met in conference at the residence of Mr. Stevenson, President of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. General Beauregard was still quite unwell, but, notwithstanding his failing health, always attending, with scrupulous care, to the minutest details of his onerous duties. In answer to his letter of the 12th, General Johnston said that his views were unchanged as to the plan of operations recorded in the memorandum of the 7th, with the exception that he assented to the entire abandonment of Columbus, should the War Department approve of it. He informed General Beauregard that when compelled to retire, he would do so along the line of the Nashville, Stevenson, and Chattanooga Railroad, to defend the country in that direction, and the crossing of the Tennessee River; and, as it was probable that the Federal forces would soon interpose between them, General Beauregard must take charge of the defence of the Mississippi Valley without instructions or orders, using his own judgment, in the event of that separation, to counteract the movements and designs of the enemy in that quarter. Before leaving Bowling Green, General Beauregard had telegraphed Colonel Pryor, at Richmond, to meet him at Nashville, that he might see with his own eyes, and make known to the Military Committee and to the government the exact condition of affairs in the Western Department. Colonel Pryor came as far as Lynchburg, Va., but hearing that communications with Nashville were interrupted, and that the enemy was at Florence and Tuscumbia, concluded to go back to Richmond. The day after his arrival at Nashville, General Beauregard, in reply to a letter from Colonel Pryor, dated February 9th, wrote him the following:
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