February 25, 1865.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
Private Huddleston's execution will be suspended, as directed. Have re-examined case, and he is not entitled to mercy under General Orders, Numbers 2. Hundreds of men are deserting nightly, and I cannot keep the army together unless examples are made of such cases.
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS FIRST CORPS,
February 25, 1865.
General R. E. LEE,
GENERAL: I have just heard from General Ewell, indirectly that he can raise force enough at Richmond to hold the lines on this side, so that my corps may be withdrawn, temporarily to your right-that is, if you can put a part of the Second Corps in place of Pickett's division. This arrangement will give you force enough to meet any move that the enemy may make upon your right. If he makes no move, then you can, when the proper moment arrives, detach a force to the aid of General Beauregard; and if the enemy should then press you you can abandon Petersburg and hold your line here and take up the line of the Appomattox. But I think than the enemy will be forced to move a force south the moment that he finds that you are re-enforcing against Sherman, else he will encounter the risk of losing Sherman as well as Richmond. There is some hazard in the plan, but nothing can be accomplished in war without risk. The other important question is provisions. We are doing tolerably well be hauling from the country and paying market prices in Confederate money. If you would give us gold. I have reason to believe that we could get an abundant supply for four months, and by that time we ought to be able to reopen our communication with the south. The gold is here, and we should take it. We have been impressing food and all the necessaries of life from women and children and have been the means of driving thousands from their homes in destitute condition. Should we hesitate, them, about putting a few whom have made immense fortunes at our expense to a little inconvenience by impressing their gold? It is necessary for us, and I do not think that we should the our capital fall into the enemy's hands for fear of injuring the feelings or interests of a few individuals. We have expended too much of blood and treasure in holding it for the last four years to allow it to go now by default. I think that it may be saved. If it can we should not leave any possible contingency unimproved. I think, however, that the enemy's positions are so well selected and fortified that we must either wait for an opportunity to draw him off from here or await his attack, for even a successful assault would probably cripple us so much that we could get no advantage commensurate with our loss.
I remain, with respect, and truly your obedient servant,