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this from the highest sources of authority in the capital. At this time the news of the explosion of the Virginia could not have possibly reached Richmond; there was no telegraphic communication between the scene of her destruction and the city, and the evidence appears to be complete, that the Government had at least aN prevision of the destruction of this vessel, or had assented to the general policy «of the act, trusting, perhaps, to acquit itself of the responsibility for it on the unworthy plea that it had given no express orders in the matter.

Again, it is well known that for at least a week prior to the destruction of the Virginia, the evacuation of Norfolk had been determined upon; that during this time the removal of stores was daily progressing; and that Mr. Mallory, the Secretary of the Navy, had ,within this period, himself, visited Norfolk to look after the public interests. The evacuation of this port clearly involved the question, what disposition was td be made of the Virginia. If the Government made no decision of a question, which for a week stared it in the face, it certainly was very strangely neglectful of the public interest. If Mr. Mallory visited Norfolk when the evacuation was going on, and never thought of the Virginia, or thinking of^her, kept dumb, never even giving so much as an official nod as to* what disposition should be made of her, he must have been more stupid than the people who laughed at him in Richmond, or the members of Congress who nicknamed without mercy, thought him to be.

It is also not a little singular that when a court of inquiry had found that the destruction of tha Virginia was unnecessary and improper, Mr. Mallory should have waived the calling of a court martial, forgotten what was due to the public interest on such a finding as that made by the preliminary court, and expressed himself satisfied to let the matter rest. The fact is indisputable, that the court martial, which afterwards sat in the case, was called at the demand of Commodore Tatnall himself. * It resulted in his acquittal.

The evacuation of Norfolk was the occasion of great distress to its population. But it was the part of a wise policy, that our military lines should be contracted and that the troops of Gen. Huger should be consolidated with the army before Richmond.

The retreat from Yorktown to the Chickahominy was marked by spirited incidents and by one important engagement. McClellan becoming, through an accident, aware of the movement of Gen. Johnston, immediately pursued our columns, which recoiled on him at Williamsburg, on the 5th of May, and drove back his army. During the whole of that day, Gen. Longstreet's division, which brought up the rear, was engaged with the enemy from sunrise to sunset. The day was marked by signal successes, for we captured three hundred and fifty prisoners, took nine pieces of artillery, and left on the field, in killed and wounded, at least three thousand of the 'enemy. During the night, our army resumed its movement towards Richmond, and half an hour after sunrise it had evaluated the town, under the necessity of leaving our killed and wounded in the hands of the enenqy.

The following day, the insolence of the enemy was again checked on the route of our retreat. On the 7th of May he attempted a landing, under cover of his gunboats, at Barhamsville, near^ West Point. The attempt was ineffectual. The Yankees were driven back, after they had assaulted our ^position three different times—the, last time being forced to the cover of their gunboats by the brave Texans of Gen. Whiting's division who, in the face of * an artillery fire, pressed the fugitives so closely that many were driven into the river and drowned.

The investment of the lines of the Chickahominy brought the two opposing armies within sight of Riphmond. After a desultory military experience, a useless and inglorious march to Manassas, a long delay on the banks of the Potomac and Chesapeake, and a vague abandonment of these lines for operations on the Peninsula, McClellan, who was the. "Napoleon" of the Democratic party of the North, but a slow and contemptible blunderer in the estimation of the Republicans, found himself, by the fortune of circumstances^ within sight of the steeples and spires of the long-sought Capital of the Confederacy.

The proximity of the enemy was an occasion of great anxiety to the people of Richmond, and the visible tremour of the Confederate authorities in that city was not a spectacle calculated either to nerve the army or assure the citizens. The fact is, that the Confederate authorities had shamefully neglected the defences of Richmond, and were now making preparations to leave it, which were called .prudential, but which naturally inspired a panic such as had never before been witnessed in the history of the war. The destruction of the Virginia had left the water avenue to Richmond almost undefended. The City Council had for months been urging upon the Confederate Government the necessity of obstructing the river, and failing to induce them to hurry on the work, had, with patriotic zeal, undertaken it themselves. A newspaper in Richmond—the Examiner—had in good time pointed out the necessity of obstructing the river with st.one, but the counsel was treated with such conceit and harshness by the government, that it was only at the risk of its exigence that that paper continued for weekp to point out the insecurity of Richmond and the omissions of its authorities. The government was at last aroused to a sense of danger only to fall to work in ridiculous haste,.and with the blindness of alarm. The appearance of the Yankee gunboats in James River was the signal for Mr. Secretary Mallory to show his alacrity in meeting the enemy by an advertisement for "timber" to construct new naval defences. The only obstruction between the city and the dread Monitor and the gunboats was a half-finished fort at Drewry's Bluff, which mounted four guns. . Some of, the Confederate officers had taken a "gunboat panic," for the line of stone obstructions in the river was gnot yet complete. They seized upon schooners at the wharves loaded with plaster of paris, guano, and* other valuable cargoes, carried them to points where they supposed the passage of the river was to be contested, and in somfe. instances sunk them in the wrong places.

JChere is no doubt that about this time the authorities of the Confederate States had nigh despaired of the safety qf Richmond. The most urgent appeals had been made to Congress by the press and the people to continue its session in Richmond while the crisis impended, But its members refused to give this mark of confidence to the government,-or to make any sacrifice x)f their selfish considerations for the moral encouragement of their constituentSr They had adjourned in haste and left Richmond, regarding only the safety of their persons or the convenience of their homes.

Nor was the Executive more determined. In the-President's mansion about this time all was consternation and dismay. A letter written, by one of his family at a time when Richmond was thought to be imminently threatened, and intercepted by the enemy, afforded, excessive merriment to the Yankees, and made a painful exhibition to the South of the weakness and fears of those entrusted with its fortunes. This letter, written with .refreshing simplicity of heart, overflowed with pitiful sympathy for the President, and amused the enemy with references to the sore anxieties of "Uncle Jeff." and to the prospect of his sinking under the mi&fortunes of his administration. The authenticity of this letter was never called into question: it is a painful and delicate historical evidence, but one to which, in the interests of truth, allusion should not be spared.*

* The following is a portion of the letter referred to. The reflections which it makes upon the courage of our noble, suffering soldiers were probably, hasty, and may be spared here:

****** When I think of the dark gloom that now hovers over our 41 country, I am ready to sink with despair. There is a probability of Gen'l "Jackson's army falling back on ^Richmond, and in view of this, no lady is "allowed to go up on the railroad to Gordonsville for fear, if allowed to one, "that many others would wish to do it, which would incommode the army."

"General Johnston is falling back from the Peninsula, or Yorktown, and "Uncle Jeff, thinks we had better go to a safer place than Richmond.

Jt is true that President Davis, when invited by the Legislature of Virginia to express his intentions towards Richmond

"We have not decided yet where we shall go, but I think to North Carolina,,, "to some, far-off country town, or, perhaps, to South Carolina. If Johnstotr "falls back as far as Richmond, all our troops from Gordonsville and "Swiffc "Run Gap" will also fall back to this place, and make one desperate stand, "against MeClellan. If you will look at-the map, "you will see that the "Yankees are approaching Richmond from three different directions—from 44 Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, and Yorktown. Oh! God, defend this pec* "pie with^thy powerful arm, is my constant prayer. Oh, mother, Uncle Jeff., "is miserable. He tries^to be cheerful, and bear up against such a cojitinua"tion of troubles, but, oh, I fear he cannot live long, if he does not get some "rest and quiet. .

"Our reverses distressed him so much, and he is so weak and feeble, it "makes' my heart ache to look at him. He knows that he ought to send his "wife and children away, and yet he cannot bear to part with them, and we "all dreao) to leave him too. Varina and I had a hard cry about it to-day.

"Oh! what a blow the fall of New Orleans was. It liked to have'set us all. "crazy here. Everybody looks depressed, and the cause of the Confederacy "looks drooping and sinking; but if God is with us, who can be against us? "Our troops are not doing as well as we expected *■**.**** The: "regiments that are most apt to run are from North Carolina and Tenneg"see. I am thankful to say that the Mississippi and Louisiana troops behave "gloriously whenever called on to fight.

"Uncle Jeff, thinks you are safe at home, as there will b,e no resistance a$> tiVicksbury) and the Yankees will hardly occupy it; an$, even if theydldi, "the army would gain nothing by marching {pto the country, and a few "soldiers would be afraid to go so far into the interior.5

"P. S. We all leave here to-morrow morning for Raleigh, ^hree gun"boats are in James River, on their way to the city, and may probably reacfe "here in a few hours; so we have no longer any time to delay. I only hope "that we have not delayed too long already- I shall then be cut off front all "communication with , and I expect to have no longer any "peace."

"I will write again from Raleigh, and Fanny must write me a letter and"direct it to Raleigh; perhaps I may get ft. I am afraid that Richmond "will fall into the hands of the enemy, as there is no way to keep back the "gunboats! James River is so high that all obstructions are in danger of* "being washed away; so that there is no help for the city. She will either "submit or else be shelled, and I think the latter alternative will he "resorted to.

"Uncle Jeff, was confirmed last Tuesday in St. Paul's Church by Bishop "Johns. He was baptized at home in the morning before church.

"Do try to get a letter to me some way. Pirect some to Raleigh and some "to Richmond. Yours, ever devotedly,

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