CONFIDENTIAL.] HEADQUARTERS, Orange Court-House, February 3, 1864.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President Confederate States:
Mr. PRESIDENT: The approach of spring causes me to consider with anxiety the probably action of the enemy, and the possible operations of ours in the ensuing campaign. If we could take the initiative and fall upon them unexpectedly we might derange their plans and embarrass them the whole summer. There are only two points east of the Mississippi where it now appears this could be done. If Longstreet could be strengthened or given greater mobility than he now possesses, he might penetrate into Kentucky, where he could support himself, cut Grant's communications, so as to compel him at least to detach from Johnston's front and enable him to take the offensive and regain the ground we have lost. I need not dwell upon the advantages of success in that quarter. The whole is apparent to you. Longstreet can be given greater mobility by supplying him with horses and mules to mount his infantry. He can only be strengthened by detaching from Beauregard's, Johnston's, or this army. If I could draw Longstreet secretly and rapidly to me, I might succeed in forcing General Meade back to Washington, and exciting sufficient apprehension at least for their own position to weaken any movement against ours. All the cavalry would have to be left in Longstreet's present front, and Jones would have to be strengthened. If the first plan is adopted, supplies will have at once to be accumulated at Bristol or along the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, ostensibly for Longstreet's present use. If the latter, provision must be made at Gordonsville and Richmond for this army. We are not in a condition, and never have been, in my opinion, to invade the enemy's country with a prospect of permanent benefit. But we can alarm and embarrass him to some extent, and thus prevent his undertaking anything of magnitude against us. I have ventured to suggest these ideas to Your Excellency for consideration, that, viewing the whole subject with you knowledge of the state of things east and west, you may know whether either is feasible, or what else can better be done. Time is an important element to our success.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HDQRS. ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
February 3, 1864.
The commanding general announces with gratification the re-enlistment of the regiments of this army for the war, and the reiteration of the war regiments of their determination to continue in arms until independence is achieved. This action gives new cause for the gratitude and admiration of their countrymen. It is hoped this patriotic movement, commenced in the Army of Tennessee, will be followed by every brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia, and extend from army to army until the soldiers of the South stand in one embattled host determined never to yield.
The troops which initiated this movement, so honorable to themselves and so pleasing to the country, are Hart's (South Carolina)