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33 VIII. HIS RECEPTION AT RICHMOND. No sooner had intelligence of Lee's resignation of his commission in the United States Army reached Richmond, than Governor Letcher appointed him major-general of the military forces of Virginia. The appointment was confirmed by the convention, rather by acclamation than formal vote; and on the 23d of April, Lee, who had meanwhile left Washington and repaired to Richmond, was honored by a formal presentation to the convention. The address of President Janney was eloquent, and deserves to be preserved.
These were the last words uttered during the interview. General Lee pressed the dying man's hand, released it, stood for several minutes by the bedside motionless and in perfect silence, and then went out of the room. On the next morning Bishop Meade expired. ] PART II. IN FRONT OF RICHMOND. I. PLAN OF THE FEDERAL CAMPAIGN. The pathetic interview which we have just described took place in the month of March, 1862. By the latter part of that month, General McClellan, in command of an army of more than one hundred thousand men, landed on the Peninsula between the James and York Rivers, and after stubbornly-contested engagements with the forces of General Johnston, advanced up the Peninsula--the Confederates slowly retiring.
The decisive moment had now arrived which was to test him. He was placed in command of the largest and most important army in the Confederacy, and to him was intrusted the defence of the capital not only of Virginia, but of the South. If Richmond were to fall, the Confederate Congress, executive, and heads of departments, would all be fugitives. The evacuation of Virginia might or might not follow, but, in the very commencement of the conflict, the enemy would achieve an immense advantage. Recognition by the European powers would be hopeless in such an event, and the wandering and fugitive government of the Confederacy would excite only contempt.