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[367] continued, and Lee's indefatigable attention to the details of the various commands was of much benefit to the public service. In the meantime disasters, confusion, and disagreement among the commands in western Virginia made it necessary to send there an officer of higher rank than any then on duty in that section. The service was disagreeable, toilsome, and in no wise promising to give distinction to a commander. Passing by all reference to others, suffice it to say that at last Lee was asked to go, and, not counting the cost, he unhesitatingly prepared to start. By concentrating the troops, and by a judicious selection of the position he compelled the enemy finally to retreat.

There is an incident in this campaign which has never been reported, save as it was orally given to me by General Lee, with a request that I should take no official notice of it. A strong division of the enemy was reported to be encamped in a valley, which one of the colonels said he had found by reconnoissance could readily be approached on one side, and he proposed with his regiment to surprise and attack. General Lee accepted his proposition, but told him that he himself would, in the meantime, with several regiments, ascend the mountain that overlooked the valley on the other side, and at dawn of day, on a morning fixed, the Colonel was to make his assault. His firing was to be the signal for a joint attack from three directions. During the night Lee made a toilsome ascent of the mountain and was in position at the time agreed upon. The valley was covered by a dense fog. Not hearing the signal, he went by a winding path down the side of the mountain and saw the enemy preparing breakfast and otherwise so engaged as to indicate that they were entirely ignorant of any danger. Lee returned to his own command, told them what he had seen, and though the expected signal had not been given by which the attacking regiment and another detachment were to engage in the assault, he proposed that the regiments then with him should surprise the camp, which he believed, under the circumstances, might successfuly be done. The colonels went to consult their men, and returned to inform that they were so cold, wet, and hungry, as to be unfit for the enterprise. The fog was then lifting, and it was necessary to attack immediately or to withdraw before being discovered by the much larger force in the valley. Lee therefore withdrew his small command and safely conducted them to his encampment.

The colonel who was to give the signal for the joint attack, misapprehending the purpose, reported that when he arrived upon the

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