and united people, success, with God's assistance, cannot be doubted.’
The urgent need for recruits to Lee
's army brought to the front the question of employing negro slaves as soldiers.
During the secret discussion of this matter, in the Confederate Congress, Lee
, in reply to a letter from one of its members, wrote on the 18th of February: ‘I think the measure not only expedient, but necessary.
The enemy will certainly use them against us if he can get possession of them. . . . I believe we should provide resources for a protracted struggle—not merely for a battle or campaign. . . . In my opinion, the negroes, under proper circumstances, will make efficient soldiers. . . . I think those who are employed should be freed.
It would be neither just nor wise, in my opinion, to require them to serve as slaves.’
On the 19th of February, when Sherman
's great and victorious army was driving Johnston
's back to the vicinity of Charlotte
wrote: ‘It is necessary to bring out all our strength, and, I fear, to unite our armies, as separately they do not seem to be able to make head against the enemy. . . . Provisions must be accumulated in Virginia
, and every man in all the States must be brought off. I fear it may be necessary to abandon all our cities, and preparations should be made for this contingency.’
On the 25th he wrote an earnest letter to Governor Vance
, of North Carolina
, in reference to desertions from his army and the causes that induced them, concluding: ‘I think our sorely tried people could be induced to make one more effort to bear their suffering a little longer, and regain some of the spirit that marked the first two years of the war.’
At a conference between President Davis
and General Lee
, early in March, 1865, it was decided that Lee
should march his army to Danville
, and there, joining to it the 18,000 under Johnston
, give battle, in North Carolina
, to Sherman
's 90,000, before Grant
could reach him. Before doing this, Lee
proposed to check Grant
's efforts at extending his left toward the Southside railroad, leading to Danville
, by assaulting Fort Stedman
near the center of Grant
's line of works near the Appomattox
, and almost immediately in front of the famous Crater.
On the 25th of March, Lee
placed the remnant of the Second corps, now under command of Gen. John B. Gordon