<br /> Lee Letter: g092

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr. President,

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the and inst: You will already have learned that the army of Gen Meade is in motion, and is crossing the Rapidan on our right, whether with the intention of attacking, or moving towards Fredericksburg, I am not able to say. But it is apparent that the long threatened effort to take Richmond has begun, and that the enemy has collected all his available force to accomplish it. The column on the Peninsula if not already moving, will doubtless now cooperate with Gen. Meade, and we may assume, is as strong as the enemy can make it. Under these circumstances I regret that there is to be any further delay in concentrating our own troops. I fully appreciate the advantages of capturing New Berne, but they will not compensate us for a disaster in Va. or Georgia. Success in resisting the chief armies of the enemy will enable us more easily to recover the country now occupied by him, if indeed he do not voluntarily relinquish it. We are inferior in numbers, and as I have before stated to your Excellency the absence of the troops belonging to this Army weakens it more than by the mere number of men. Unless the force that it will be necessary to leave in North Carolina is able to reduce New Berne, I would recommend that the attempt be postponed, and the troops in N.C. belonging to this army be at once returned to it, and that Gen Beauregard with all the force available for the purpose, be brought without delay to Richmond. Your opportunities of deciding this question are superior to my own, my advice being based upon such lights as I possess. It seems to me that the great efforts of the enemy here and in Georgia have begun, and that the necessity of our concentration at both points is immediate and imperative. I submit my views with great deference to the better judgment of your Excellency, and am satisfied that you will do what the best interests of the country require.

The army was put in motion to-day, and our advance already occupies our former position on Mine Run. The enemy’s cavalry is reported advancing both towards Fredericksburg and in this direction, evidently with the intention of ascertaining the disposition of our forces. With great respect

Your obt servt.

R. E. Lee Genl.

Notes:

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

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 92.