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[563] years of the war. He was not ‘in chief command of the army’ at the time specified. Soon after he took command of the Army of Northern Virginia, he insisted upon being relieved of the general command to which I had previously assigned him, and his repeated request in that regard was granted. I very frequently consulted him about other matters than those of the army under his command, and did so on several occasions about affairs in West Virginia. On one occasion, I think it must have been about the time to which General Echols alludes, some gentlemen in Western Virginia requested me to appoint Custis Lee to the command of that department. He was then, and had for some time been, the senior officer of my staff, and my observation of him, both in the office and at various times in the field, had well satisfied me of his ability. The case was one in which his unwillingness to interfere with other officers had no just application. I sent for him and offered him the command, stating the circumstances of the case; he left me without any expression of his wishes on the subject, but soon after one of my aids told me that when he went to the room occupied by them he mentioned the offer I had made to him, and expressed his unwillingness to take the position in such decided terms that I could not consistently force it upon him. It must have been after this that General Echols saw General Lee, and thinking, no doubt, like myself, that Custis Lee was very well suited to the command, he may naturally have enforced his opinion by a reference to my own, but General Robert Lee knew too well what was due to me and to himself to have claimed any power to control me in the matter. He was as little likely to assume what did not belong to him as I was to surrender my constitutional function. I frequently consulted General Lee about officers to be employed elsewhere than under his command, and in connection with the subject of West Virginia I have received a copy of a letter written to me by General Lee from his headquarters at Orange Courthouse, 27th of January, 1864. He writes: ‘I have not been unmindful of your request expressed in your letter of the 16th inst., desiring my opinion in reference to the reorganization of the troops in West Virginia.’ After making favorable mention of a number of officers, he proceeds: ‘I do not know to what duty General Buckner is assigned, but of the officers that have been serving in that department I think General Ransom is the most prominent.’ At a later date, when General Ransom's health rendered it necessary to relieve him, I sent the following telegram to General Lee:

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