<br /> Lee Letter: g139

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee to
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr President

I have reed your letter of the 20th Inst: enclosing one from the Pres: of the Petersburg & Richmond R.R. It is stated the road will be in operation this morg – Genl Grant will concentrate all the troops here he can raise, from every section of the U. S. I saw it stated some days since in one of their papers. That A. T. Smith’s corps, which had returned from the Red River, had embarked at Vicksburg in a number of transports & ascended the Misspi – I have not heard of it since. Its destination may have been Memphis. I hope Early will be able to demolish Hunter, but I doubt whether Hampton will be able to injure Sheridan. His force is small in comparison with the enemy’s & he seems to be looking to reinforcements more than to what he can accomplish himself. I hope your Excy will put no reliance in what I can do individually, for I feel that will be very little. The enemy has a strong position, & is able to deal us more injury than from any other point he has ever taken. Still we must try & defeat them. I fear he will not attack us but advance by regular approaches. He is so situated that I cannot attack him. The battery at Howlett’s will open to-day at 12 M – The Navy & G. W. C. Lee cooperating as far as they can – I very much regret to learn that my reply to your confidential note has not reached you – It was sent the night I recd it by the messenger (one of Genl Bragg’s I think) who brought your note. I stated that notwithstanding my esteem & admiration for Genl. Pendleton – his truthfulness, sincerity & devotion to the country, I had never thought of recommdg him for the command of a corps in this army. You must not understand that I think him incapable for such a command, but I had never seen anything that caused me to select him, & therefore was unable to recommend him. I can spare him if you think he is the best available. I do not know the officers in Genl J’s army whom you enumerate. Genl Stuart may be the best. Genl Johnston had a high opinion of Genl Ewell & I can bear testimony to his soldierly qualities. But I think his health & nervous system has been shaken by his great injury & though active & attentive that he cannot without breaking himself down undergo the arduous duties of a Corps Commdr I can spare him if Genl Johnston desires. I should think he would require a commander at once as I understand Genl Loring is the Senior present. Praying that you may enjoy all health & happiness.

I remain most respy & truly

R. E. Lee Genl.


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

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 139.