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When compelled to fall back from the railroad you will defend the crossings of the Edisto above Branchville, operating in conjunction with General Stevenson for the protection of Columbia, and the crossings of the Congaree above and below that city.

The remainder of your force (say about one brigade) left south of the Salkehatchie will retire fighting in the direction of Augusta, holding the enemy in check wherever practicable. It will be sent to rejoin you as soon as circumstances will permit.

Continue to keep General Hill advised of your movements, and of those of the enemy.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

On the 6th it was still uncertain whether the enemy, after reaching Branchville, would attempt to strike Augusta, Columbia, or Charleston. He was, no doubt, inclined to move on the two last at once, and our force was insufficient to check his progress. He was advancing upon the Charleston Railroad, General Wheeler striving to get between him and Augusta, and having all bridges below Holman's Bridge destroyed.

The following telegram from General Beauregard to General Cooper, dated Augusta., February 8th, 1865, describes the situation then existing:

Enemy cut railroad to Charleston yesterday (the 7th) near Blackville. Lee's corps is in position on south fork of Edisto, protecting approaches to Columbia. Head of Cheatham's corps arrived here last night. McLaws's division is at and about Branchville. I shall leave here to-morrow for Columbia.

Upon reaching Columbia, about noon on the 10th, General Beauregard immediately telegraphed General Hardee advising the concentration of his forces from the Combahee line to a line behind the Edisto, so as to shorten it as much as possible.

On the day following, in answer to General Hardee, who had informed him of the crossing of the enemy to James Island in front of his works, General Beauregard forwarded the following telegram:

By late movements of the enemy it is apparent that he intends to move upon Charleston, or to cut off your communications along the Northeastern Railroad. It is therefore advisable that you proceed to execute, as soon as possible, the movement agreed upon the 2d instant. Guard well your left flank and the crossings of the Santee.

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