<br /> Lee Letter: g104

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr President

I have had the honor to receive this morning your letters of the 19th & 20th inst: Part of the troops you were so kind as to order to me have joined, viz, Hoke’s & Barton’s brigades – Corses & Kemper’s reached Milford yesterday evening, but I have not been able as yet to get them to me, I hope to do so to-day. The enemy night before last commenced to withdraw from his position & to move towards Bowling Green – The movement was not discovered until after daylight, & in a wooded country like that in which we have been operating, where nothing is known beyond what can be ascertained by feeling, a day’s march can always be gained – The enemy left in his trenches the usual amount of force generally visible, & the reports of his movement were so vague & conflicting that it required some time to shift the truth. It appeared however that he was endeavoring to place the Matapony river between him & our army, which secured his flank, & by rapid movements to join his cavalry under Sheridan to attack Richmond – I therefore thought it safest to move to the Annas to intercept his march, and to be within easy reach of Richmond. As soon therefore as his forces in my front Cd be disposed of, I withdrew the army from its position, & with two corps arrived here this morning – The 3rd corps (Hills) is moving on my right & I hope by noon to have the whole army behind the Annas. I should have preferred contesting the enemy’s approach inch by inch; but my solicitude for Richmond caused me to abandon that plan. The enemy’s whole force with the exception of the 9th corps had left their former positions before dark yesterdays I have not heard of their infantry beyond Bowling Green – I have thought it probable that he might from that point open communication with Port Royal on the Rappahannock ; but I learned yesterday from a scout returned from the north of that river, that they had commenced to rebuild the railroad from Aquia Ck to Fredericksburg – As soon as I can get more positive information concerning the movements of the enemy, I will forward it to you. I am with great respect

Your obt servant

R. E. Lee Genl.

Notes:

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

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 104.