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Some War History Never Published. 131
throughout the winter. Notwithstanding the belief that many in the Northern army were opposed on principle to invading the Southern States, and that they would fight better in defending their own homes than in attacking ours, it was believed that the best, if not the only, plan to insure success was to concentrate our forces and attack the enemy in their own country. The President, I think, gave no definite opinion in regard to the num- ber of men necessary for that purpose, and I am sure that no one present considered this a question to be finally decided by any other person than the commanding general of this army.
Returning to the question that had been twice asked, the Presi- dent expressed surprise and regret that the number of surplus arms here was so small, and I thought, spoke bitterly of this disappointment. He then stated that at that time no re-inforce- nients could be furnished to this army of the character asked for, and that the most that could be done would be to furnish re- cruits to take the surplus arms in store here (say 2*500 stand) ; that the whole country was demanding protection at his hands and praying for arms and troops for defense. He had long been expecting arms from abroad, but had been disappointed; he still hoped to get them, but had no positive assurance that they would be received at all. The manufacture of arms in the Con- federate States was as yet undeveloped to any considerable ex- tent. Want of arms was the great difficulty; he could not take any troops from the points named, and without arms from abroad could not re-inforce this army. He expressed regret, and seemed to feel deeply, as did every one present.
When the President had thus clearly and positively stated his inability to put this army in the condition deemed by the gen- erals necessary before entering upon an active offensive com- paign, it was felt that it might be better to run the risk of almost certain destruction fighting upon the other side of the Potomac rather than see the gradual dying out and deterioration of this army during a winter, at the end of which the term of enlistment of half the force would expire. The prospect of a spring cam- paign to be commenced under such discouraging circumstances was rendered all the more gloomy by the daily increasing strength of an enemy already much superior in numbers.
On the other hand was the hope and expectation that before