Camp Orange CtH 16 Jan ‘64



Your letters of the 10 & 11th Inst: were handed to me by Capt Goree last night. I am glad that you are casting about for some way to reach the enemy. If he Could be defeated at some point before he is prepared to open the campaign it would be attended with the greatest advantages. Either of the points mentioned by you would answer. I believe however if Grant could be driven back, & Mississippi & Tenn”: recovered, it would do more to relieve the Country & enspirit our people than the mere capture of Washington. You Know how exhausted the Country is between here & the Potomac. There is nothing for man or horse. Every thing must be carried. How is that to be done with weak transportation on roads in the condition we may expect in March? You know better than I how you will be off in that respect in the West. After you get into Kentucky I suppose provisions can be obtained. But if saddles &c could be procured in time, where can the horses or mules be? They Cannot be obtained in this Section of Country & as far as my information extends not in the Confcy. But let us both quietly & ardently set to work. Some good may result & I will institute inquiries. There is a part of your letter that gives me uneasiness, that in relation to your position.

Your Cavy I hope will keep you informed of any movement against you. After the Completion of the Va: & Ten: R. R. you will be able to retire with ease & you had better be prepared in case of necessity. If the enemy follow with the assistance of Genl Jones, you may be able to hit him a hard blow. I would suggest that you have the Country examined, routes explored, & strong positions ascertained & improved. There is some report of a projected movement of the enemy next spring by the route from Knoxville & the abandonment of this to Richmond. It is believed that such a movement will be as successful as that by Grant on Vicksburg. As they have not been able yet to overcome the 80 miles between Washington & Richmond by the shortest road, I hope they will not be able to accomplish the more circuitous route. Not knowing what they intended to do & what Genl Johnston Can do, has prevented my recommending your return to this army. After hearing that you were in comfortable quarters & had plenty of provisions & forage, I thought it was best you should remain where you are till spring, or until it was determined what could be done. I hope you will be able to recruit your Corps. In reference to that how would Genl Buckner answer for the command of Hoods division, at least until it is seen whether he ever can return to it? You may recollect just before you went west, certain promotions in the arty of this army were agreed on, & that it was desired to promote Col Alexander as chief of your corps to the rank of Brig: Genl, provided Col Walton could get service south. This I could not accomplish at the time, nor have I been able to do so since not wishing the officers in the other Corps to be promoted without advancing those in years, so that their relative rank might be preserved. I have refrained from sending in the recommendations, but the season of active operations is approaching & I wish the organization perfected. I see by an order of yours that Col Alexander has been appd chief of arty of your corps. Is it permanent or temporary & do you wish him promoted? As some change in your opinion of the relative merits of the officers with you may have been made by your service west. I enclose a copy of the promotions proposed in your corps, as you may not have one. It was arranged upon the supposition the Col Walton could be assigned to other duty. If he cannot, he & Major Eschelman will be the field officers of the Washn Arty. Genl Pendleton has proposed an exchange between Col Cabell & Lt Col Lightfoot. I do not know whether that can be accomplished. Let me hear from you as soon as convenient. With kind regards to yourself & all with you, I am very truly yours

R E Lee





Source: Photocopy of original letter, Helen M. Taylor Collection, Section 6, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 May 1