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Chapter 9: the President arrives in Richmond.

Richmond was one great camp-men hurried to and fro with and without uniforms and arms, with that fixed look upon their faces that they acquire when confronted with danger and the necessity for supreme effort. A long war debases a nation, but individuals rise higher then and develop more quickly than in piping times of peace.

Upon the President's arrival in Richmond he found General R. E. Lee in command of the army of Virginia, with the rank of Major-General.

Many troops had been sent from other States of the Confederacy to the aid of Virginia, and the forces there assembled were divided into three armies, at the most important positions threatened: one, under command of General J. E. Johnston, at Harper's Ferry, covering the valley of the Shenandoah; another under General G. T. Beauregard, at Manassas, covering the direct approach from Washington to Richmond; and the third, under Generals Huger and Magruder, at Norfolk [87] and in the Peninsula between the James and York Rivers, covering the approach from the seaboard. The armies of Johnston and Beauregard, though separated by the Blue Ridge, had such practicable communication with each other as to render their junction possible when the necessity should be foreseen.

Each of the three were confronted by forces greatly superior to their own, and it was doubtful which would first be the object of attack.

The temporary occupation of Harper's Ferry was especially needful for the removal of the valuable machinery and material located there.

The demonstrations of General Patterson, commanding the Federal army in that region, caused General Johnston earnestly to insist upon being allowed to retire to a position nearer Winchester. Under the circumstances an official letter was addressed to him, from which the following is an extract:

Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, Richmond, June 13, 1861.
To General J. E. Johnston, commanding Harper's Ferry, Virginia.
Sir: You have been heretofore instructed to exercise your discretion as to retiring from your position at Harper's Ferry, and taking the field to check the advance of the enemy. [88] ... The effective portion of your command, together with the baggage and whatever else would impede your operations in the field, it would be well to send, without delay, to the Manassas road. ... For these reasons it has been with reluctance that any attempt was made to give you specific instructions, and you will accept the assurance of the readiness with which the freest exercise of discretion on your part will be sustained.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. Cooper.

The two first encounters of the Northern and Southern troops occurred about this time. On June 11, 1861, at Bethel Church, and on June 18th Colonel Vaughan met the enemy at the twenty-first bridge on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, charged upon his camp, captured and brought off two pieces of artillery and the enemy's flag.

While General Johnston was keeping the army under Patterson in check in the Valley, a disaster to the Confederate arms occurred in West Virginia. General Garnett was defeated at Rich Mountain by McClellan and Rosecrans and forced to retreat. General Garnett was killed.

The enemy in front of General Johnston were reinforced, and he, anticipating an attack [89] by a superior force wrote, July 9, 1861, to General Cooper, a letter of which the following extract is the last paragraph:

If it is proposed to strengthen us against the attack I suggest as soon to be made, it seems to me that General Beauregard might, with great expedition, furnish five or six thousand men for a few days.

J. E. J.

The enemy did not attack General Johnston, but the Federal army in front of Washington, under General McDowell, advanced to attack the army of General Beauregard at Manassas, and a few hours before they took up their line of march, a lady gave notice of the fact to the Confederates, and a telegram was sent to General Johnston:

General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpepper Court-House, either by railroad or by Warrenton.

In all the arrangements exercise your discretion.


S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General.


To this telegram General Johnston replied:

headquarters, Winchester, Va., July 18, 1861.
General: I have had the honor to receive your telegram of yesterday.

General Patterson, who had been at Bunker Hill since Monday, seems to have moved yesterday to Charleston, twenty-three miles east of Winchester.

Unless he prevents it, we shall move toward General Beauregard to-day.

Joseph E. Johnston.

After Johnston moved to join Beauregard, he telegraphed an inquiry to Mr. Davis, regarding his relative rank to Beauregard, and the following answer was returned:

You are a General in the Confederate Army, possessed of the power attached to that rank. You will know how to make the exact knowledge of Brigadier-General Beauregard, as well of the ground as of the troops and preparation, avail for the success of the object in which you co-operate.

The zeal of both assures me of harmonious action.

Jefferson Davis.


Though the date of General Johnston's commission gave him precedence, to avoid a misunderstanding between these generals, whose cordial co-operation was necessary to the welfare of their country, Mr. Davis decided at the earliest moment to go in person to the army.

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