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Why no pursuit after Manassas.

Attention has frequently been drawn to the restiveness of the entire southern people, under alleged neglect to seize golden opportunities for pressing the enemy, after Confederate successes. Most frequently repeated of all these charges, is that which puts upon the shoulders of Jefferson Davis the onus of delay-and of all resulting evil-after the first victory on Manassas Plains. This charge receives semi-official sanction, from ex-Vice-President Stephens; for his history of the war plainly asserts that to the President was due “the failure of the Confederate troops to advance after the battle of Manassas.” The following correspondence between the two men most interested in that mooted question may therefore be read with interest by all candid thinkers:

Richmond, Va., November 3, 1861.
General J. E. Johnston, Commanding Department of the Potomac:
Sir: Reports have been and are being widely circulated to the effect that I prevented General Beauregard from pursuing the enemy after the battle of Manassas, and had subsequently restrained him from advancing upon Washington City. Though such statements may have been made merely for my injury, and in that view their notice might be postponed to a more convenient season, they have acquired importance from the fact that they have served to create distrust, to excite disappointment, and must embarrass the administration in its further efforts to re-enforce the armies of the Potomac, and generally to provide for the public defense.

For these public considerations, I call upon you as the commanding general, and as a party to all the conferences held by me on the 21st and 22d of July, to say whether I obstructed the pursuit of the enemy after the victory at Manassas, or have ever objected to an advance or other active operation which it was feasible for the army to undertake?

Very respectfully yours, etc., Jefferson Davis.


headquarters, Centreville, November 10, 1861.
To His Excellency, the President.-
Sir: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 3d instant, in which you call upon me, as the “Commanding General, and as a party to all the conferences held by you on the 21st and 22d of July,” to say:

Whether I obstructed the pursuit after the battle of Manassas.

Or have ever objected to an advance, or other active operations which it was feasible for the army to undertake.

To the first question I reply: No. The pursuit was “obstructed” by the enemy's troops at Centreville, as I have stated in my official report. In that report I have also said why no advance was made upon the enemy's capital (for reasons) as follows:

The apparent freshness of the United States troops at Centreville, which checked our pursuit; the strong forces occupying the works near Georgetown, Arlington and Alexandria; the certainty, too, that General Patterson, if needed, would reach Washington with his army of more than 30,000, sooner than we could; and the condition and inadequate means of the army in ammunition, provision and transportation, prevented any serious thoughts of advancing against the Capital.

To the second question, I reply, that it has never been feasible for the army to advance further than it has done — to the line of Fairfax Courthouse, with its advanced posts at Upton's, Munson's and Mason's Hills. After a conference at Fairfax Courthouse with the three senior General officers, you announced it to be impracticable to give this army the strength which those officers considered necessary to enable it to assume the offensive. Upon which, I drew it back to its present position.

Most respectfully your obedient servant, J. E. Johnston. A true copy: G. W. C. Lee, Col. and A. D. C.

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