<br /> Lee Letter: g195

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr President

I have recd the telegrams of Genl Kirby Smith of the 24th Feby & 8th March, which you did me the honour to cause to be transmitted to me – As regards the first, I fear the physical difficulties mentioned by Genl Smith, of crossing the Mississippi at this time are real, & if so they cannot be overcome. When Genl Smith does cross the Mississippi, I see no necessity of his turning over the command of the Trans-Misspi Dept to any one, & I did not understand it was your intention for him to do so, but that his jurisdiction should embrace the Eastern bank of the river. If Genl Buckner can command the Dept: while Genl Smith visits Richmond, I think he could be entrusted with its direction, under the general controul of Genl Smith, while necessary for him to be on the East bank – Although the dispatch is obscure I infer that Genl Smith is contemplating a movement into Missouri, with which his crossing the Mississippi will interfere – If he has any prospect of maintaining himself in Missouri, so as to call off the troops operating to the East of the Mississippi it will have the same effect as to bring his army here to oppose them. That would produce a beneficial result – A mere expedition into Mo: similar to those previously undertaken, will give no material benefit – I put little credence in the report from New Orleans of the expedition against Texas. It was doubtless circulated to cover the real movement against Mobile. It is the usual practice of the enemy – He could not raise as large a force as that represented & has only sufficient for one expedition. With great respect

Your obt servt

R E Lee


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

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 195.