The river has now fallen to 4 feet, and aa bridge, which is being constructed, I hope will be passable by to-morrow . Should the river continue to subside, our communication with the south bank will be open to-morrow . Had the late unexpected rise not occured, there would have been no cause for anxiety, as it would have been in my power to recross the Potomac on my first reaching it without molestation . Everything would have been accomplished that could have been reasonably expected - the Army of the Potomac would have been thrown north of that river, the forces invading the coast of North Carolina and Virginia diminished, their plan of the present campaign broken up, and, before new arrangements could have been made for its resumption, the summer would have been ended . I still trust that a kind Providence will cause all things work together for our good. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President Confederate States .
- HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, Bunker Hill, Va., July 16, 1863.
Mr. PRESIDENT: I have received your letter of the 12th instant, and thank you for the kind terms you speak of the army, and for your consideration of myself . I inclose a copy of my letter of the 7th instant, which failed to reach you . The army is encamped around this place, where we shall rest today. The men are in good health and spirits, but want shoes and clothing badly. I have sent back to endeavor to procure a apply of both, and also horseshoes, for want of which nearly our cavalry is unserviceable . As soon as these articles are obtained, we shall be prepared to resume operations . I shall not need the pontoon train now, as the boats used at Falling Waters have been brought away, excepting the new ones constructed by us, which were too heavy and too large for transportation . I have accordingly ordered the train of which you speak to come no farther. The attack on the coast may have been caused by the information contained in the captured letter. I think that all these demonstrations of the enemy are designed to retain troops from the field, and while he must be resisted s force kept at threatened points sufficient to secure them, we should endeavor to avoid being misled as to his numbers and real intentions, and thus enable him to accomplish his purpose I do not know that I shall need any more troops here, and they had better be kept in front of Richmond, to secure it from attack and protect our railroads. I learn that the enemy has thrown a pontoon bridge over the Potomac at Harper's Ferry . Should he follow us in this direction, I shall lead him up the Valley, and endeavor to attack him as far from his base as possible . I share in Your Excellency's regret for the fall of Vicksburg . It will be necessary for us to endeavor to select some point on the Mis-