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[83] with a force not short of 35,000 men, supported by a reserve of not less than 15,000 infantry. To these I can oppose but about 16,500, reserving about 1500, merely for camp guards, pickets, and the garrison of the intrenched camp here. In consequence of this great disparity in numbers, I have issued the Special Order No. 100, enclosed herewith, concentrating my troops, in the exigency, on the naturally strong positions enumerated therein, afforded by Bull Run, in the hope of conducting the movement so as to induce the enemy to offer me battle in front of Mitchell's Ford, where his numerical superiority would be materially counterbalanced by the difficulties of the ground and my previous preparations there for the event. But I am, however, inclined to believe he may attempt to turn my left flank, by a movement in the direction of Vienna, Frying-pan Church, and, possibly, Gum Spring, and thus cut off Johnston's line of retreat on and communications with this place, via the Manassas Gap Railroad, while threatening my own communications with Richmond and depots of supply, by the Alexandria and Orange Railroad, and opening his communications with the Potomac through Leesburg and Edward's Ferry.

Of course, if I had sufficient force, one less unequal to that of the enemy, I would not permit him, with impunity, to attempt so dangerous a movement on his part; but, in view of the odds against me, and of the vital importance at this juncture of avoiding the hazard of a defeat, which would open to the enemy the way to Richmond, I shall act with extreme caution, If forced, however, to retire before an overwhelming force by another route than the railroad, my line of retreat can be taken at any time through Brentsville to a junction with Brigadier-General Holmes, at or near Fredericksburg, whence we could operate on the line of communication of the enemy on their advance, so as, at least, to retard him by the way. In that event, if deemed expedient, I could leave a suitable garrison in the intrenchments here, to occupy him and retard his advance the longer, but with orders to spike our guns and follow in my rear until effecting a reunion with me. In presenting the foregoing to the consideration of your Excellency, I wish it distinctly understood, however, that if the enemy should offer battle on the line of Bull Run, I shall accept it for my command, against whatsoever odds he may array in my front.

Respectfully, Sir, your obedient servant.

G. T. Beauregard, General Commanding.

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J. E. Johnston (1)
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