<br /> Lee Letter: g038

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr President

I have conversed with Col Lee in reference to the proposed organization of the Arty for this Army. I have considered the subject well & it is the best plan I can submit. I had hoped to have gotten your views on the subject, but finding I could not leave my post, & wishing to get the Arty in the most efficient condition before the opening of the campaign thought it best not to delay. Any improvement you may suggest, I shall be thankful for. I think the battn organization for Arty better than the regimental. Two field officers to a battn in my opinion are necessary. Any one of the proposed battns in time of action, occupy a greater space, require more care & attention, & are more difficult to command in time of battle, than a regt: of Infy, which experience shows require three field officers. The two batteries have frequently to be detached – If you have not an officer of judgment & experience to send forward select the position, prepare the way &c., the captains have to leave their batteries or lead them blindly forward. This results in exposure or delay. A Captain should always be with his battery. The six Compy battns would be better with three field officers. I did not wish to fill every post, but to leave opening for promotion. The Arty officers deserve great credit for their Conduct & advancement in their profession. They have reed but little promotion in comparison with other arms – Young Infy and Cavy officers have sprung into Brigadier & Major Genls – But if the law does not allow the officers as proposed, that puts an end to the subject. I thought I had kept below the limit of the law. According to my acceptation of its provisions, the 264 guns would authorize 11 Lt Cols: In the proposed organization only 7 were provided for. I was undetermined as to which of the majors was most entitled to promotion at the date of my former letter. Since then, upon the recommendations of Col Crutchfield, Genl Pendleton & Genl Jackson, I have concluded that Major H. P. Jones should be. I therefore request if it can be done, that he be promoted to Lt. Col; This will give 8 Lt Cols; & leave 16 majors – The latter is the exact number authorized for 264 guns. The captain of the Washington Arty proposed to be promoted was not named in my former letter – Genl Longstreet desired Major Waltons to select him, & he is still absent. I fear by this means the Louisa captain will lose rank. They are all good officers – Gen. Longstreet thinks the Senior, which is Capt Eshelman, should be promoted. From all that I have heard my own impression is that Capt W. C. Squires is the better officer. I wish Col: Walton was here to decide the matter.

You are aware that the present law authorizes you to appoint a Brigr Genl for every 80 guns. That would give three for this army. I named no one for the positions, for I wished to consult you first on the subject. I presume from what I have heard that applications will be made to you, & to prevent annoyance it may be better to consider the matter. Genl Elzy if his health & habits do not interfere would make a good chief of Arty – He has always been in that service – Is brave & attentive & ought to be well informed. My opinion is based upon my acquaintance with him in his early service. Since the Mexican War I have seen little of him. If the law allows, he might be assigned with his present rank. Gen’l Pendleton could be assigned to Jackson’s corps – Genl Longstreet would recommend Col: Walton for his corps. Col: Walton is a brave steady & good officer in battle & maintains good discipline in his battn. I could not say from my own knowledge that he is the best selection for the place. His knowledge of Arty especially its science, must be limited, & I think his knowledge of ground defective, & his selection of positions not good. I have had during the past campaign, before & in battle to employ Col Long in selecting positions for Arty examining fields &c &c. I consider him better qualified for those duties than any officer with me, & would make a better Genl of Arty – I know the difficulty of appointing him, & the objection to taking any one in his position & promoting them over men serving in the field. Yet he is the best man I can name – I have written down hastily the above remarks for your consideration. I regret I have not time to condense them – I remain most respy

your Excy obt servt.

R. E. Lee


W. J. De Renne CollectionWormsloe, Chatham County, Georgia (1914)

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 38.