Chapter 16: Beauregard's letter.The victory at Manassas was followed by a period of inactivity and of fancied security, so sure did many feel that this battle would end the war. This was shown by the decrease of enlistments; but President Davis did not coincide with this view. Foreign recognition was looked forward to as an assured fact, and the politicians began at once to speculate upon the future recipients of the most prominent offices in the new Confederacy. Mr. Hunter, of Virginia, about this time left the Cabinet, in order, his enemies said, that his identification with the Administration should not damage his chances as Mr. Davis's successor to the Presidency. Mr. Davis was attached to him and thought he did not care to share the responsibility of a possible failure. General Beauregard was also named in some quarters as the next Confederate President, the popular nominee of an honor to be conferred six years hence. Before the putative  nomination he wrote the following discouraging letter to the Richmond Whig.
Prior to the date of the above letter, in which General Beauregard entreats his  friends “not to trouble themselves about refuting the slanders and calumnies aimed at him” (in consequence of the publication of the synopsis of his report of the battle of Manassas), his relations with the Confederate officials, “except Colonel Northrop, the Commissary-General,” “had been those of unstudied friendship.” 1 Having occasion to recommend the appointment of an officer as Chief of Ordnance of the “First corps,” in the place of Captain E. P. Alexander, an accomplished officer who had been transferred to General Johnston, he received from a “subordinate” t in the War Department the brief reply that “the President did not approve the division of the army into two corps, and preferred that there should be but one chief of ordnance to the army of the Potomac.” At this General Beauregard took umbrage, esteeming himself a better judge of such matters than the President. This circumstance led to an estrangement between General Beauregard and the authorities at Richmond, which apparently widened as the war progressed. The widely published synopsis of General Beauregard's report of the battle of Manassas,  wherein it was stated that the rejection of his so-called plan of campaign, verbally presented by Colonel Chesnut to the President, in the presence of Generals Lee and Cooper, prevented the Federal army from being destroyed before July 21st. The President addressed a letter to those officers, asking them to give him their opinions and recollections of the interview in question. The letter is dated November 4th, the day after the publication of General Beauregard's letter, written “within hearing of the enemy's guns.” The reply of General R. E. Lee should render any further discussion of the vexed and profitless question unnecessary.
About this time a controversy arose between General Beauregard and the Secretary of War, Mr. Benjamin, caused by the organization of a rocket battery for the Army of the Potomac. Mr. Davis wrote as follows:
The Secretary, writing upon this subject to General Beaurega ,, expressed his “no small surprise” that he should have committed an act “without warrant of law,” and excused him only on account of his motives and his defect of judgment. This letter of Mr. Benjamin “staggered” General Beauregard, and he, overlooking Mr. Benjamin, referred the letter to the President. The President replied to the General, under date of November 10, 1861, and below his letter is given entire:
The President was in this instance, as in every other, watching over the strict construction of the laws and the individual rights of the people of each State. He looked with anxious care to the elective rights of the men in the army, and it is very apparent by his first letter how anxious he was to conciliate General Beauregard and while impressing restrictions upon him, to avoid giving him pain. The first letter shows his animus, the second vindicates the law and protects the dignity of the Secretary of War.