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[406]

General Bragg, after General Beauregard had left for Mobile, on the 17th, informed the President of the fact, and, doubtful as to what course to pursue, asked for further instructions.

And here it is but fair to assert that, on the 17th of June, the War Department, and Mr. Davis likewise, had already received General Beauregard's telegram of June 14th; for if the President's telegram, forwarded from Richmond, at that date, to General Bragg, had taken but one day to traverse the wires—and the proof is there, none can deny it—it is certain that no greater time was required for General Beauregard's despatch to travel the same distance over the same line. And it should be stated further, that, on the 20th of June, when the President sent his order, assigning General Bragg to the permanent command of the Western Department and of the Army at Tupelo, he had not only full cognizance of General Beauregard's telegram of the 14th, but also of his explanatory letter of the 15th. The true motive actuating General Beauregard in temporarily leaving his command, was, therefore, perfectly brought home to the President, before he penned the peremptory order, so uncalled for and so arbitrary, by which—judging from appearances—he sought to humiliate and cast aside one of the most prominent generals of the South, who enjoyed then, as always during the war, the full confidence and affection of the people—if not of the President—and whose influence with the army was undoubted. If Mr. Davis had been animated, at that time, by other feelings than those of personal dislike towards General Beauregard, he would, with a view to the public weal and to the eminent services of the latter, have simply sent General Van Dorn—as he actually did—to relieve General Lovell at Vicksburg, and would have ordered General Bragg to remain with the forces at Tupelo until General Beauregard's return. It is claimed, on behalf of Mr. Davis, that had such a course been adopted, General Beauregard, though absent, would still have retained command of the department, and orders to General Bragg would have had to pass through General Beauregard's hands before finally reaching the actual commander of the forces; which would have entailed much delay, if nothing worse. This objection is utterly futile, inasmuch as General Beauregard had transferred to General Bragg the temporary command of the department as well as of the army proper.1 But even admitting that such a

1 See his letter of June 15th to General Cooper.

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