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GENERAL J. E. JOHNSTON, Manassas, Va.
MY DEAR GENERAL : Yours of the 10th instant is before me, and I can only suppose that you have been deceived by someone of that class in whose absence 'the strife ceaseth.' While you were in the Valley of Virginia, your army and that of General Beauregard were independent commands ; when you marched to Manassas, the forces joined and did duty together. I trust the two officers highest in military rank in Richmond were too well informed to have doubted in either case as to your power and duty.
Persons have talked here of the command of yourself and Beauregard as separate armies, and complaints have been uttered to the effect that you took the reinforcements and guns for your own army ; but to educated soldiers this could only seem the muttering of the uninstructed, the rivalry of those who did not comprehend that unity was a necessity, a law of existence.
Not having heard the accusations, I am like yourself ignorant of the specifications, and will add that I do not believe any disposition has existed on the part of the gentlemen to whom you refer to criticise, still less to detract from, you. If they believed that you did not exercise command over the whole it was, I doubt not, ascribed to delicacy.
You are not mistaken in your construction of my letters having been written to you as the Commanding General. I have, how ever, sometimes had to repel the idea that there was a want of co-operation between yourself and the second in command, or a want of recognition of your position as the senior and commanding general of all the forces serving at or near the field of your late brilliant achievements.
While writing, it occurs to me that statements have been made, and official applications received, in relation to staff officers which suggested a contingence of separation rather than unity in the ' army of the Potomac.
I did not understand your suggestion as to a commander-in-chief for your army. The laws of the Confederacy in relation to generals have provisions which are new and unsettled by decisions, their provisions special, and as the attention of Congress was called to what might be regarded as a conflict of laws, their action was confined to the fixing of dates for the generals of the Confederate States Army.
- Jefferson Davis: ex-President of the Confederate States of America; (1890), Davis, Varina