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[70] guarded by such a small force as was at his disposal. These facts and observations he at once reported to the President, as may be seen by the following letter:

Department of Alexandria, Va., Provisional A. C. S., June 3d, 1861.
To his Excellency President Jefferson Davis, Richmond, Va.:

Dear Sir,—I arrived here on the 1st at 2 P. M., and immediately examined the site of this encampment and the plans of its proposed defences. The former is in an open country, traversed by good roads in every direction, without any strong natural features for the purposes of defence, and without running water nearer than three miles, except a few small springs at half that distance. The plans of the works are good, but too extensive to be finished in less than two or three weeks, and cannot be garrisoned with less than from three to four thousand men. As this position can be turned in every direction by an enemy, for the purpose of destroying the railroads intended to be defended by it, it becomes a question whether these works could be held more than a few days, when thus isolated.

I have reconnoitred closely several of the fords on Bull Run, and one on Occoquan Run (about three miles from here), which offer strong natural features of defence, but they are so numerous and far apart, that only a much larger force than I have here at my command (say not less than ten to fifteen thousand men) could hope to defend them all, against a well-organized enemy of about 20,000 men, who could select his point of attack. I must therefore either be reinforced at once, as I have not more than about six thousand effective men; or I must be prepared to retire (upon the approach of the enemy) in the direction of Richmond, with the intention of arresting him whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself; or I must march to meet him at one of said fords, to sell our lives as dearly as practicable.

Badly armed and badly equipped as my command is at present (several regiments having but one or two field officers), and having hardly any means of transportation, it would be expecting too much, that I could meet successfully the foe who is preparing to attack us in a few days, with all the advantages of number, arms, and discipline. I beg, however, to remark, that my troops are not only willing, but anxious, to meet the enemies of our country, under all circumstances.

I remain, dear Sir, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


From what precedes it is easy to see why Bull Run did not naturally afford a strong defensive line. In fact, the ground on the Federal side of the run commanded, in most places, the ground occupied by the Confederates. Still, Manassas Junction, as a strategic point, was one of superior importance, as it secured communication with the valley of Virginia, and the army of the Shenandoah,

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