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[78] fertile and populous valley would rise in mass to aid him in repelling the invader. But suppose it should be otherwise, he could still, by retiring to the passes of the Manassas railroad and its adjacent mountains, probably check the progress of the enemy, and prevent him from either taking possession of the valley, or passing to the rear of your position. We hope soon to reinforce you to an extent equal to the strength you require, by the junction of General Johnston and I cannot doubt but that you would then be better circumstanced to advance upon Alexandria than if General Johnston, by withdrawing from the valley, had left the enemy the power to pass to your rear, to cut your line of communication, and advance to attack you in reverse, while you were engaged with the enemy in front.

Concurring fully with you in the effect which would be produced by the possession of Arlington Heights and Alexandria, if your rear is at the same time sufficiently covered, it is quite clear that if the case should be otherwise, your possession, if acquired, would be both brief and fruitless.

To your request that a concerted plan of operations should be adopted, I can only reply that the present position and unknown purposes of the enemy require that our plan should have many alterations. I have noted your converging lines upon Richmond, and it can hardly be necessary to remind you that we have not at this time the transportation which would enable us to move upon those lines as described. Should the fortune of war render it necessary to retire our advance columns, they must be brought mainly upon railroads, and that of Harper's Ferry would come by your present position. It would, therefore, be a necessity that General Johnston's column should make a junction with yours, before yours retired; but I have not anticipated the necessity of your retreat, and have struggled to increase your force, and look hopefully forward to see you enabled to assume the offensive. Had I been less earnestly engaged in providing for yours and other commands, I should have had the pleasure of visiting you before this date. Four regiments have been sent forward, neither of which had reached you at the date of your letter; and you will soon receive further reinforcements. They are not trained troops, but I think they are better than those of the enemy, and the capacity which you have recently exhibited, successfully to fight with undisciplined citizens, justifies the expectation that you will know how to use such force as we are able to furnish.

Very truly yours,

Still persisting, however, in his effort to make use of all possible resources in meeting the imminent crisis, General Beauregard, in his official and semi-official correspondence at the time, suggested that the troops under General Holmes, at Aquia Creek, at least two thousand five hundred men, with two batteries, should be so posted as to be available for a timely junction with his own forces. General Holmes fully concurred, asserting that his command, as then disposed, was not likely to be of any military use; but the suggestion met with no favor at Richmond.

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