<br /> Lee Letter: g134

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr. President,

I received this morning at 2 A.M. a dispatch from Genl. Beauregard, stating that he had abandoned his line on Bermuda Neck and would concentrate all his force on Petersburg. He also said that his skirmishers and pickets would be withdrawn at daylight. I immediately ordered General Pickett’s division to proceed across James River and occupy the lines, directing Genl. Anderson to move another division to the River and proceed in person to Bermuda and take direction of affairs. I requested Genl. Beauregard not to withdraw his skirmishers and pickets until the arrival of those troops, though I feared from the lateness of the hour that he would not receive my message in time. Gent. Anderson’s troops were in the vicinity of Malvern Hill, and it was 9 o’clock A.M. to-day before the division crossed the river at Drewry’s Bluff. One brigade with Genl’s Anderson & Pickett at its head preceded the division more than an hour; but before it could reach the lines, they had been occupied by the enemy, who advanced a force as far as the Petersburg Turnpike. On learning this condition of affairs, I ordered over a second division to the support of the first, and a third to the vicinity of the bridge. The enemy was easily driven back, and General Anderson soon regained our second line of entrenchments. At last accounts the enemy in force occupied our first line, extending from Howlett’s house on the river by Ware Bottom Church, from which I fear it will be difficult and costly to dislodge him. I have not learned from Genl Beauregard what force is opposed to him in Petersburg, or received any definite account of operations there, nor have I been able to learn whether any portion of Grant’s Army is opposed to him. Taking advantage of his occupation of the Bluff at Howlett’s house the enemy brought up five vessels and prepared to sink them in Trent’s Reach. Two had been sunk with Torpedoes in their bows when the officer who reported it to Captain Pegram left. I suppose the object is to prevent our gunboats from descending the river.

A dispatch just received from General Beauregard states that he countermanded the order for the withdrawal of his pickets and skirmishers, and that they occupied our second line at 10¼ AM to-day, but that they were afterwards forced to retire upon Petersburg. I am 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. 134.