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The correspondence of Gen. Robt. E. Lee.

Chancellorsville to Gettysburg—March to August, 1863.

The following abstracts from the War Records, published by the United States Government, exhibit most strikingly, not only the profound ability of General Robert E. Lee as a military chieftain, but also the moral grandeur of his character.

The general belief has been, that General Lee had the finest army on the Gettysburg campaign that he ever commanded, and that the army as well as the commander was full of confidence and strength. This correspondence shows that the army was debilitated from being insufficiently fed; the horses were weakened from the same cause, and [149] that at every point the commanding general was thwarted, not being permitted to assemble his own command for the great effort. Also that his veteran brigades, Cooke's, Jenkins' and Corse's, were kept inactive against his protest, and that his advice was continually unheeded. The crowning difficulty was the weakness in cavalry for offensive operations.

The opposition which he encountered and the wants and difficulties which beset him are painfully manifest.

The agony which wrung his noble being is truly pathetic. His patience, his ardent patriotism were sublime.

Few men have been so tried in the crucible of agonized spirit.

The facts as presented give a limning not to be attained in set phrase.

The gallant officer who made this compilation, Colonel William H. Palmer, formerly Chief of Staff of General A. P. Hill, has richly merited our gratitude.—Editor.

Series I. Vol. XXV, part Ii—correspondence. Serial number 40. Chancellorsville.

R. A. Lec, March 27th, 1863, page 687, to James A. Seddon, Secretary of War. His army not supplied with food.
R. E. Lee, March 29th, 1863, page 691, to Seddon Scouts on duty ordered away by Department without his knowledge.
R. E. Lee, April 1st, 1863, page 697, to General W. N. Pendleton.Tells him to have his artillery horses ‘grazed and browsed’ in the absense of long forage.
R. F. Lee, April 16, 1863, page 725, to President Davis.Unable to bring his army together for want of subsistence and forage.
R. E. Lee, April 17, 1863, page 730, to Seddon. Army failing in health, because of insufficient rations—1/4 lb. bacon, 18 oz. flour, 10 lbs. rice, to each 100 men every third day. Will break down when called upon for exertion.


R. E. Lee, April 20, 1863 page 737, to Davis.Gives points in the South (Florida and Georgia), where supplies can be had in abundance.
R. E. Lee, April 20, 1863, page 740, to Davis. Insufficiency of cavalry in his army, points out where cavalry regiments doing nothing can be ordered to him. Fears disaster from insufficiency of cavalry.
R. E. Lee, May 2, 1863, page 765, to Davis. If I had all of my command and could keep it supplied with provisions and forage I would feel easy.
R. E. Lee, May 7th, 1863, page 782, to DavisCalls attention to the insufficiency of his cavalry. His army 40,000, Hooker's 120,000 men. Losses at Chancellorsville heavy. Always so where the inequality of numbers is so great. Recommends that troops be brought from the South, where they have nothing to do, and will perish from disease and inaction. Bring Beauregard with them and put him in command here.
R. E. Lee, May 20th, 1863, page 832, to DavisA. P. Hill, I think upon the whole, is the best soldier of his grade with me.
R. E. Lee, May 30, 1863 page 832, to Davis.Requests that the War Department take charge of D. H. Hill's department of the Cape Fear, and that he be relieved from its supervision. D. H. Hill does not co-operate with him or obey him, or return troops that belong to the Army of Northern Virginia. These delays he fears will leave him nothing to do but to retreat. Fears that the time has passed when he can take the offensive with advantage.
R. E. Lee, May 30, 1863, page 834, to Seddon. Recommends that troops be brought from South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Cape Fear Department and James river. Asks to be relieved of the command of the Cape Fear Department.


R. E. Lee, June 2, 1863, page 848, to Davis.Regrets to lose Jenkins' and Ransom's Brigades, good officers and veteran troops. Comments on D. H. Hill's actions.
R. E. Lee, June 2, 1863, page 849, to Seddon.Further comments on D. H. Hill's retaining his troops and attempting to send inferior troops in their stead.
R. E. Lee, June 3, 1863, page 851, to Seddon.About D. H. Hill and the best Brigades retained from the Army of Northern Virginia.

Series I, volume XXVII, part III, serial no. 40. Gettysburg.

R. E. Lee to General Sam Jones, page 858, June 3, 1863.Even with this reduction I am deficient in general transportation for commissary, quartermaster, &c., trains.
R. E. Lee to General A. P. Hill, page 859, June 5, 1863.Third Army Corps in front of Fredericksburg; balance of the army moving north.
R. E. Lee to Seddon, Secretary of War, June 8, 1863, page 868.Whiting and D. H. Hill. ‘He does not seem to have projected much and has accomplished less.’
Nothing to be gained by remaining on the defensive. If the Department thinks it better to remain on the defensive, it has only to inform me. Troops not needed in the South. Sent to the armies in the field, we might hope to make some impression on the enemy.
note.—On the way to Gettysburg.I Insufficient food, insufficient transportation, insufficient cavalry. No infantry reinforcements. Can't get his own troops from Cape Fear department. Troops rotting from inaction in the South. Heroically starts north, but on the 8th of June, at Culpeper C. H., is uncertain if the Department will let him go on.


Seddon, Secretary of War to General Lee, June 9, 1863, page 874.Apologises to General Lee, and explains that the disposition of the troops in North Carolina is determined by President Davis.
General R. E. Lee, June 9, 1863, to Davis, page 874.Culpeper C. H. Reports that the enemy, cavalry, infantry and artillery, have crossed the Rappahannock in force. Prisoners from two corps captured. Suggests orders to Cooke's Brigade and Jenkins' Brigade to be sent to Army N. Virginia.
President Davis, page 874 June 9, 1863.Mr. Davis refers General Lee's dispatch to General D. H. Hill as to Jenkins' and Cooke's Brigades.
Samuel Cooper, A. General, to General D. H. Hill, June 10, 1863, page 879. Informs General D. H. Hill of General Lee's order as to Cooke's and Jenkins' Brigades, and leaves it to General D. H. Hill's discretion if General Lee's order shall be carried out.
R. E. Lee to Seddon, June 13, 1863, p. 886.You can realize the difficulty of operating in an offensive movement with this army if it is to be divided to cover Richmond. It seems to me useless to attempt it with the force against it.
S. Cooper, A. A. General, to D. H. Hill, June 15, 1863, pages 890-891.Authorizes Hill to retain Jenkins' Brigade. Ransom's to Drury's Bluff. Corses' Virginia Brigade, drawn from General Lee's command at Culpeper.
R. E. Lee to General A. P. Hill, June 16, 1863.Informs him that Anderson's Division of his Third Army Corps has reached Culpeper C. H. Expects another division next day.
Davis to Lee, June 19th, 1863, page 904.Informs General Lee why a part of his army, ‘Pickett's Division, Corse's Brigade, has been detained. Jenkins' Brigade deemed necessary by D. H. Hill to protect Petersburg.’


General A. G. Jenkins to D. H. Hill, June 20, 1863, Murfee's Depot, page 908.I beg as a personal favor that you arrange to send my Brigade to join General Lee. I have sent scouts to Suffolk. No enemy, no gunboats.
General G. A,. Pickett, Berryville Pike, to General R. H. Chilton, A. A. G., A. N. Va., June 21, 1863, page 910.Wants his scattered command sent to him.
General Lee to General J. E. B. Stuart, June 22, 1863, page 913.Move with three Brigades into Maryland. (Two Brigades can guard the Blue Ridge and take care of your rear.) Take position on General Ewell's right. Place yourself in communication with him. One column will move by the Emmettsburg route, another by Chambersburg.
General Lee to General Stuart, June 23, 1863.I think you had better withdraw on this side of the mountain to-morrow night, cross at Shepardstown the next day and move over to Fredericktown. In either case, after crossing the river you must move on and feel the right of Ewell's troops, collecting information, provisions, &c.
General Lee to Davis, June 23, 1863, page 925.Urges withdrawal of troops from Carolina and Georgia under Beauregard and part at least pushed forward to Culpeper C. H. His presence would give magnitude to even a small demonstration and tend greatly to confound and perplex the enemy. Good results would follow from sending forward under General Beauregard such of the troops about Richmond and North Carolina as could be spared for a short time. The good effect of beginning to assemble an army at Culpeper C. H. would I think soon become


apparent, and the movement might be increased in importance as the result might appear to justify.
General Lee to General Samuel Cooper, A. A. G., June 23, 1863, page 925.Urges that Corse's Brigade be sent to ‘Pickett's Division,’ not needed where it is especially if the plan of assembling an army under Beauregard at Culpeper C. H. is adopted.
General Lee opposite Williamsport, June 25, 1863, page 930, to Davis.If the plan I suggested the other day of organizing an army even in effigy under Beauregard at Culpeper C. H., can be carried into effect, much relief will be afforded.
If even the brigades in Virginia and North Carolina, which Generals D. H. Hill and Elzey think cannot be spared, were ordered there at once, and General Beauregard were sent there, if he had to return to South Carolina; it would do more to protect both States than anything else.
General Lee, Williams port, June 25, 1863, to Davis.It seems to me that we cannot afford to keep our troops awaiting possible movements of the enemy, but that our true policy is, as far as we can, to employ our own forces as to give occupation to his, at points of our selection. * * * I feel sure, therefore, that the best use that can be made of the troops in Carolina and those in Virginia now guarding Richmond, would be the prompt assembling of the main body of them * * together with as many as can be drawn from the army of General Beauregard at Culpeper C. H., under the command of that officer. It should never be forgotten that our concentration at any point, compels that of the enemy, and his numbers


being limited, tends to relieve all other threatened localities.

Page 946.Abstract from the Department of North Carolina, Major General D. H. Hill Commanding, Headquarters near Richmond, Virginia, June 30th, 1863.

Permanent force:

Clingman's Brigade,
Cook's Brigade,Officers, 1,308.
Martin's Brigade,
Colquitt's Brigade,Aggregate present, 22,822.
Jenkins' Brigade.
Ransom's Brigade,
Unattached Infantry,Pieces of Field artillery, 104.

Major-General Elsey's command.

Wise's Brigade.
Corse's Brigade, of Pickett's Division.Numbers not given.
Local troops.

Mr. Davis' letter to General Lee, June 28, 1863.

Giving reasons why he could not send General Beauregard to Culpeper C. H., or any troops to Culpeper C. H., to make a diversion in his favor, was entrusted to a courier who was captured by Captain Dahlgren, of General Meade's staff. So that General Meade had full knowledge that he had nothing to fear in the direction of Washington.

General Lee first learned that his suggestions would not be entertained by reading Mr. President Davis' letter to him in the New York Herald and New York Tribune.

General. Lee resigned in August.

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