<br /> Lee Letter: g146

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr. President

I have the honor to enclose to your Excellency two letters received from Gen Whiting, one of which you will perceive, contains matters that he desires to be brought to your attention. I think Gen Whiting exaggerates the difficulties and dangers of his position. So far as the report to which he alludes of Gen Smith’s corps being intended to operate against Wilmington, is concerned, I believe that if such a destination was publicly assigned to it, the object was to cover the real purpose. I believe that Gen Smith’s command, when it went to the White House, and when it returned to James River, pursued the course intended for it.

I do not know, even if the enemy designs to attack Wilmington, how assistance can be given to Gen Whiting from this quarter, or from any other, unless he can draw some of the reserves of N. Carolina to his support. Nor do I see under the circumstances, what benefit can result from repeated publications of the weakness and necessities of his position by Gen Whiting. It increases the risk of the enemy becoming acquainted with his weakness, and may induce an attack. I think it would be well to call Gen. Whiting’s attention to this consideration, and inform him that he must endeavor to strengthen himself as much as possible, and in case of attack, make the best defence he can. Dwelling upon possible dangers and looking for assistance that cannot be given, is not a good preparation on his part for defence. 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. 146.