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[77]

Headquarters Manassas, Department of Va., camp Pickens, June 12th, 1861.
To His Excellency President Davis:

Sir,—The bearer, Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Jones of the Provisional Army of Virginia, a member of my general staff, has been instructed by me to lay before your Excellency a diagram, with my views relative to the operations of the present campaign in this State, which should be acted upon at once.

The enemy seem to be taking the offensive towards Harper's Ferry, and a few days hence may find General J. E. Johnston in such a critical condition as to render it impossible to relieve him. If he were ordered to abandon forthwith his present position and concentrate suddenly his forces with mine, guarding, with small detachments, all the passes through which the enemy might follow him, we could, by a bold and rapid movement forward, retake Arlington Heights and Alexandria, if not too strongly fortified and garrisoned, which would have the effect of recalling all the enemy's forces from northern Virginia, for the protection of Washington. But should General Johnston be unable to unite his forces with mine, then he ought to be instructed to retreat at the proper time towards Richmond, through the valley of Virginia, checking the enemy wherever and whenever he can. When compelled to abandon my present position, I will fall back also on Richmond; the forces along the lower Potomac, on the Peninsula, and at Norfolk, may have to do likewise. Then, acting on interior lines, from Richmond as a centre (our forces being increased by the reserves at that point), we could crush, in rapid succession and in detail, the several columns of the enemy, which I have supposed would move on three or four different lines. With thirty-five thousand men, properly handled, I have not the least doubt that we could an-nihilate fifty thousand of the enemy. I beg and entreat that a concerted plan of operations be adopted at once by the government, for its different columns. Otherwise, we will be assailed in detail by superior forces, and will be cut off, or destroyed entirely.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jones will present my views more in detail to your Excellency.


The President made the following reply:

Richmond, Va., June 13th, 1861.
My dear General,—Colonel Jones delivered to me your letter of the 12th instant, and, as suggested by you, I conversed with him of the matter to which it related. Your information may be more accurate than we possess, in relation to the purposes of the enemy, and I will briefly reply to you on the hypothesis which forms the basis of your suggestions.

If the enemy commence operations by attack upon Harper's Ferry, I do not perceive why General Johnston should be unable, even before overwhelming numbers, to retire behind the positions where the enemy would approach in reverse. It would seem to me not unreasonable to expect that, before he reaches Winchester, the terminus of the railroad in his possession, the people of the


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