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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/345

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Our LaSl Capital. 337

Secretary of War, General J. C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky. There were present: Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of State; Trenholm, Secretary of Treasury; S. R. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy; Davis, the Attorney-General; J. H. Reagan, Postmaster-General, and Mr. Memminger, formerly Secretary of the Treasury; also Mr. Harrison, the President's private secretary.

Mr. Davis, while in Danville, remained at his temporary home and capitol very little. He was very busily engaged in examining into the fortifications surrounding the place, which he reported as very faulty both in construction and design. He was also actively engaged in formulating plans relating to the design which he had formed of having Lee retreat to the Virginia State line, where he could be able to form a junction with Johnston, the army as thus combined making a final stand on the banks of and in the country contiguous to the Dan and Roanoke rivers. The execution of this design which he had in mind, had its accomplishment proved pos- sible, would have enabled the leaders to have obtained much better terms than an unconditional surrender. However, as it happened, Grant was able to, and did by a flank movement, which his position aided him in making, prevent the contemplated move on Lee's part, forced the crippled army to retreat towards Lynchburg, where it was surrounded on all sides and compelled to capitulate. This sur- render of Lee's army on April the Qth made the fall of the civil branch of the Confederate government inevitable.


Until the news of Lee's surrender reached him, President Davis was very hopeful and confident of the ultimate triumph of the Con- federacy. In fact, the tone of the proclamation issued by him on the 5th, soon after his arrival in Danville, is, as he admits, "viewed by the light of subsequent events, it may be fairly said, was over- sanguine." The following is a copy of the proclamation referred to:

"The General-in-Chief found it necessary to make such move- ments of his troops as to uncover the capital. It would be unwise to conceal the moral and material injury to our cause resulting from its occupation by the enemy. It is equally unwise and unworthy of us to allow our energies to falter, and our efforts to become relaxed under reverses, however calamitous they may be. For many months the largest and finest army of the Confederacy, under a leader whose presence inspires equal confidence in the troops and the people, has been greatly trammelled by the necessity of keeping constant watch