<br /> Lee Letter: g121

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr. President,

In my report to the Hon Secty of War yesterday evening, I stated that Gen Sheridan with a large force of cavalry had crossed the Pamunky in the afternoon of the 7th at New Castle Ferry, and encamped that night about Dunkirk and Aylett’s on the Matapony. He was accompanied by artillery, wagons, ambulances, and beef cattle. I have received no definite information as to his purpose, but conjecture that his object is to cooperate with Gen Hunter, and endeavor to reach the James, breaking the railroads &c as he passes, and probably to descend on the south side of that river. I think it necessary to be on our guard and make every arrangement in our power to thwart his purpose and protect our communications and country. I have directed Gens. Hampton and Fitz Lee with their divisions to proceed in the direction of Hanover Junction, and thence, if the information they receive justifies it, along the Central R.R., keeping the enemy on their right, and shape their course according to his. The pause in the operations of Gen. Grant induces me to believe that he is awaiting the effect of movements in some other quarter to make us change our position, and renders the suggestion I make with reference to the intention and destination of Gen Sheridan more probable. It was stated by a prisoner captured yesterday belonging to Gen. Sheridan’s command, that they had heard that Gen Morgan was in Pa. and that they were going in pursuit. I mention this improbable story as you may know whether there is any truth in the statement with reference to Gen Morgan. A negro servant belonging to our army who had been captured by the enemy, made his escape from Gen Sheridan yesterday at 10 A.M. near Mangonick Church, and was under the impression that they would encamp that night at Bowling Green. Three prisoners brought in to Gen Hampton confirm in part the statement of the servant.

An extract from the Philadelphia Inquirer published in our papers reports that the army of the N West under Gen Pope was on its way to reinforce that of the Potomac, and a gentleman from the Valley says that a force of two or three thousand men, believed to be under Gen Pope was moving to join Gen Hunter, and should have reached Staunton by this time.3 There may be therefore some probability in the story. I do not know whence reinforcements can be drawn to our armies unless Gen Kirby Smith can cross a part of his force to join Gen. Johnston and enable him to assume the offensive.

Very respectfully 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. 121.