War of the Rebellion: Serial 096 Page 1203 Chapter LVIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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HEADQUARTERS FIRST CORPS,

February 4, 1865.

General R. E. LEE,

Commanding:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday. I shall endeavor as far as possible to execute your designs, but neither diligence nor skill nor valor can increase my number, and our present force cannot hold the line to the Chickahominy against a very determined attack. I knew that our line was long, but thinly occupied, but I thought that we could better afford to have it broken and lose a little ground anywhere else than here, and my idea was that we should choose the lesser evil. General Grant will probably not regard the cutting of our communication with the south so essential as he did before the fall of Fort Fisher and the advance of General Sherman against Branchville. If he makes another effort to take Richmond by fighting, I think that the effort must be on this side; we shall fight him, of course, as long as we have a man, but we should fight with much better heart if we could have better hope of results. As there were but three brigades of General Pickett's on the south side, I thought that Rodes' old division would be able to hold his line, which must be strong now, and leave the other two divisions under Gordon in reserve on the south side. The enemy is so posted on this side that it seems impossible to obtain correct information of his movements until he passes outside of his present lines. When he does pass out he will be so near his point of attack that he can reach it, if he moves promptly, before we can receive succor.

I remain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. LONGSTREET,

Lieutenant-General.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST ARMY CORPS,

February 4, 1865.

Colonel W. H. TAYLOR,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Northern Virginia:

Scouts from Gary's command report that on the 30th eight transports loaded with cavalry passed up the James River. Several regiments of cavalry attempted to cross the Chickahominy at Long Bridge the day the force appeared at Riddel's Shop, but failed. On the night of the 2nd of February the enemy moved artillery and wagons from the south to the north side for several hours, and the same evening moved troops up to Fort Harrison. Large increase of camp fires was apparent last night on the right of the enemy's line.

J. LONGSTREET,

Lieutenant-General.

HEADQUARTERS FIRST ARMY CORPS,

February 4, 1865.

Colonel A. C. HASKELL,

Commanding Gary's Cavalry Brigade:

General Longstreet desires you to send out three or four of your best scouts down to Williamsburg to find out what force is there, and report back as soon as possible.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

O. LATROBE,

Assistant Adjutant-General.