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[76]

Chapter 7:

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The Confederate troops in northern Virginia, east of the grand chain of the Alleghanies, now formed a series of detached commands, stretching from northwest to southeast respectively, under General Joseph E. Johnston, at Harper's Ferry, General Beauregard, at Manassas, and General Holmes, at Aquia Creek; each outnumbered by confronting forces, excepting General Holmes's command, whose position on the lower Potomac was taken only to prevent a possible landing of the enemy at that point.

The forces in front of General Johnston and those in front of Colonel Eppa Hunton, commanding a battalion at Leesburg, the western extremity of the Manassas line, were still on the north bank of the Potomac.

General Beauregard, appreciating the necessity of an immediate concerted system between these independent commands, particularly between his own and the considerable forces at Harper's Ferry, and viewing Manassas as the most important strategic point for both belligerents, and the one most likely to attract the main effort of the enemy, which, according to reports, might be made at any moment, had determined if possible to reform the Confederate military situation, in accordance with his views of sound policy. His plan, as the following letter shows, was marked, as were all his military plans, by the leading ideas of concentration and aggression.

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