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[397] Others were founded on better judgment, but even they were like the last resource of men who had staked all and lost. On the 21st of February, Breckenridge suggested assembling the handful of infantry still under Early, the one brigade in South-West Virginia, the troops in Western North Carolina, and adding these to ‘all the available force from other quarters’ ‘to destroy Sherman.’ ‘If it was possible,’ he said to Lee, ‘to assemble an equal or superior force to meet him, and that force could be wrought into enthusiasm by your personal presence, great results might be achieved; and something of this sort must be done at once, or the situation is lost.’

On the same day, Beauregard telegraphed direct to Jefferson Davis, from South Carolina: ‘Should enemy advance into North Carolina towards Charlotte and Salisbury, as is now almost certain, I earnestly urge a concentration in time of at least twenty-five thousand infantry and artillery at latter point, if possible, to give him battle there and crush him there. Then to concentrate all forces against Grant, and then to march to Washington, to dictate a peace. Hardee and myself can collect about fifteen thousand, exclusive of Cheatham and Stewart [from Hood's army], not likely to reach in time. If Lee and Bragg could furnish twenty thousand more, the fate of the Confederacy would be secure.’ Beauregard was ill at the time, and it is generous to suppose that his illness had affected his brain. The idea of marching to Washington to dictate a peace at this epoch of the war did not commend itself to the rebel authorities, and the day after this dispatch was received, Johnston superseded Beauregard in

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