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‘ [396] is the only officer whom I know who has the confidence of the army and people, and if he was ordered to report to me I would place him there on duty.’

In the same dispatch he said: ‘It is necessary to bring out all our strength, and, I fear, to unite our armies, as separately they do not seem able to make head against the enemy. Everything should be destroyed that cannot be moved out of the reach of Generals Sherman and Schofield. Provision must be accumulated in Virginia, and every man in all the states must be brought out. I fear it may be necessary to abandon all our cities, and preparations should be made for this contingency.’

The most stringent orders were given on the following day to remove or destroy all supplies on the route of Sherman or Schofield, and Breckenridge inquired to what point Lee wished to retire, and whither stores should be moved, in the event of the evacuation of Richmond. Lee replied on the 21st: ‘In the event of the necessity of abandoning our position on the James river, I shall endeavor to unite the corps of the army about Burksville (junction of the Southside and Danville railroad), so as to retain communication with the North and South as long as practicable, and also with the West. I should think Lynchburg, or some point west, the most advantageous place to which to remove stores from Richmond.’ The same day he formally requested that Johnston should be ordered to report to him for duty.

The most extraordinary and extravagant plans were now suggested. The emergency, it was felt, demanded extreme measures, and some of the schemes proposed were the mere frantic imaginings of despair.

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