<br /> Lee Letter: g178

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr. President,

I have received tonight the dispatch from Gen Hardee of the 8th inst: which you have done me the honor to forward. The dispositions made by Gen Hardee appear to me to be judicious, and as far as I can judge at this distance, the line he proposes to hold is the best. All he wants is sufficient troops. According to his statement he will have with Connors’ brigade, over 20,000 men. This is exclusive of the 5000 militia promised by Gov Magrath, and also of Gen G. W. Smith’s command. This will swell his force to 27000. Ten thousand additional troops ought to be obtained from Georgia, and I hope no effort will be spared to get them. I do not know what Hood can accomplish, or what he proposes to do, but his force should not be kept idle, and unless he can deal the enemy some important blow, his troops, or at least a portion of them should be brought east. If he adopts a defensive course, no more troops will be required there than enough to hold Thomas in check. The only aid that I can give Hardee in addition to what I have done, is to send down Butler’s division of cavalry. Part of it is there now under Young and I will send the balance should you deem it judicious to do so. But in that event I should have to send Gen. Hampton, or it might be merged in Wheeler’s cavalry and thus lost. Gen Hardee informs me that he has no command for Gen R. H. Anderson, though he would like to have his assistance.

An expedition has left Grant’s army which I think is probably intended to repeat the attack against Wilmington. I have not yet learned its strength, but from the number of transports that have descended James River, I should judge it was not larger than the former. Still Gen Bragg may have to be reinforced, which will further weaken this army. The 8th corps and a portion of the black troops are said to form the land troops of the expedition. I am with great respect

Your obt servt

R. E. Lee

Notes:

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

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 178.