<br /> Lee Letter: g105

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr. President

Your letter of the 19th inst giving me a general account of the condition of military affairs has been received. This army is now lying south of the North Anna. I have moved General Breckinridge’s command in front of Hanover Court House to guard the main route from Richmond. I will add to it Col: B. T. Johnson’s, which I think will be sufficient to check any movement in that direction if made. At present all my information indicates that the movement of General Grant’s army is in the direction of Milford Staticn, and General Hampton who is in front of that place is of the opinion that it will march upon Hanover Junction by that route. If that is its course, I think it is for the purpose of adhering to the railroad which, as I informed you yesterday, I hear is being repaired north of the Rappahannock. During its reconstruction, General Grant will have time to recruit and reorganize his army, which as far as I am able to judge, has been very much shaken. I think it is on that account that he interposed the Mattapony between us. Whatever route he pursues I am in a position to move against him, and shall endeavor to engage him while in motion. I shall also be near enough Richmond I think, to combine the operations of this army with that under General Beauregard and shall be as ready to reinforce him if occasion requires, as to receive his assistance. As far as I can understand, General Butler is in a position from which he can only be driven by assault, and which I have no doubt, has been made as strong as possible. Whether it would be proper or advantageous to attack it, General Beauregard can determine, but if not, no more troops are necessary there than to retain the enemy in his entrenchments. On the contrary General Grants army will be in the field, strengthened by all available troops from the north, and it seems to me our best policy to unite upon it and endeavor to crush it. I should be very glad to have the aid of General Beauregard in such a blow, and if it is possible to combine, I think it will succeed. The courage of this army was never better, and I fear no injury to it from any retrograde movement that may be dictated by sound military policy, I do not think it would be well to permit the enemy to approach the Chickahominy, if it can be prevented, and do not see why we could not combine against him after he has crossed the Pamunky as on the Chickahominy. His difficulties will be increased as he advances, and ours diminished, and I think it would be a great disadvantage to us to uncover our railroads to the west, and injurious to open to him more country than we can avoid. I am with great respect

Your obt Servt

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. 105.