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[421]

Lexington, Va., February 25, 1868.
Hon. Reverdy Johnson, United States Senate, Washington, D. C.:
My Dear Sir,—My attention has been called to the official report of the debate in the Senate of the United States of the 19th instant, in which you did me the kindness to doubt the correctness of the statement made by the Hon. Simon Cameron in regard to myself.

I desire that you may feel certain of my conduct on the occasion referred to so far as my individual statement can make you. I never intimated to any one that I desired the command of the United States Army, nor did I ever have a conversation with but one gentleman, Mr. Francis Preston Blair, on the subject, which was at his invitation, and, as I understood, at the instance of President Lincoln.

After listening to his remarks, I declined the offer he made to me to take command of the army that was to be brought into the field, stating as candidly and as courteously as I could, that though opposed to secession, and deprecating war, I could take no part in an invasion of the Southern States.

I went directly from the interview with Mr. Blair to the office of General Scott, told him of the proposition that had been made to me, and my decision.

Upon reflection after returning to my home, I concluded that I ought no longer to retain any commission I held in the United States Army, and on the second morning thereafter, I forwarded my resignation to General Scott.

At the time I hoped that peace would have been preserved; that some way would have been found to save the country from the calamities of war, and I then had no other intention than to pass the remainder of my days as a private citizen.

Two days afterwards, upon the invitation of the Governor of Virginia, I repaired to Richmond, found that the convention, then in session, had passed the ordinance withdrawing the State from the Union, and accepted the commission of commander of its forces, which was tendered me. These are the simple facts of the case, and they show that Mr. Cameron has been misinformed. I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,


It will be seen from this letter that no sooner had Colonel Lee received and rejected this proposition, which tendered him rank far

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