previous next


Dear Sir,—Please accept my sincere thanks for your kind letter of the 5th instant, and for your consideration in enclosing to me the copy of a ‘paper’ the existence of which was unknown to me, and which because of its special reference to myself I am glad to possess.

The ‘paper’ purports to be a statement of a conversation of two hours duration, and to have been prepared from memory, four months after the conversation occurred. The occasion is represented to have been an official conference or council between myself, as the President of the Confederate States, and the three senior generals of the Confederate army in Northern Virginia.

It is a condemnatory fact, not stated in the paper, that no notice was given to me of a purpose to make a record of the conversation, and no opportunity allowed me to make any correction of expressions attributed to me in the paper, thus secretly prepared, and so preserved until, in the nineteenth year after its date, it was revealed to me by being offered to the United States for publication among the documents relating to the war. It may naturally he asked why was it secretly prepared, and why now offered for publication?

Without assigning a motive, or directly answering the questions, I think, however, it can scarcely be claimed that the object was thereby to increase the military power and to promote the ultimate sucess of the Confederate cause.

Now, having introduced this contribution to the history of the war, in the questionable shape under which it appears, I will summarily notice its prominent features.

The paper bearing date 31st January, 1862, appears to have been written by Gen. G. W. Smith, and to have been approved by Generals Beauregard and J. E. Johnston. It does not in some important respects agree with my recollection of what occurred, and is wanting in consistency, that infallible test of truth.

The document opens with a paraphrase of a letter said to have been written to the Secretary of War by Gen. J. E. Johnston, asking for a conference to be held at his headquarters to decide whether the army could be reinforced to the extent that the commanding general deemed necessary for an offensive campaign.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (2)
Virginia (Virginia, United States) (1)
Biloxi (Mississippi, United States) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Joseph E. Johnston (2)
Marcus J. Wright (1)
G. W. Smith (1)
G. T. Beauregard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
October 15th, 1880 AD (1)
January 31st, 1862 AD (1)
5th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: