RICHMOND, VA., February 10, 1865.
General R. E. LEE:
GENERAL: Yours of yesterday received. Your proposition to issue a proclamation, calling all deserters and other absentees to return to their proper commands, on the ground of pardon, if they do so within a certain time, is approved. The period proposed to be allowed is too short for those most distant, and longer than necessary for those most proximate. The time allowed to report for transportation at the nearest point to their homes where transportation could be furnished at the nearest more readily made a constant quantity. It will be well to warn all soldiers that this is the last interposition by an amnesty for deserters; but the pardoning power, as used, is rather a revisory than a pardoning function. sentences have rarely been remitted except upon new evidence which, if it had been before the court, would have changed their finding, and delay for the purpose of preparing for death has sometimes resulted from an apparent purpose to execute the convict to prevent his appeal to the Executive.
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
February 10, 1865.
General R. E. LEE,
Your letter of the 9th is just received. The line of our pickets is liable to the objections reported by our engineers to about the extent as all other picket-line. I don't remember that I ever saw one that could not be taken by assault, and if the enemy is allowed to hold them after taking them, he can throw up a defensive line during the night. The particular part of my line referred to has some advantages that are unusual: First, if the enemy should get them, he will be commanded by the fire from our parapets and the tops of our bombproof; second, we could open a reverse and lateral fire upon him after he got into this new position; third, I can't see how he could possibly remain there; and, fourth, I don't think he could get away. Besides, there is a line abatis in front, and it is well protected from our main line; so I do not think it can be held unless our main line is also taken. I have frequently found that engineers see all of the disadvantages of positions and overlook the advantages. It has one disadvantage which is common to all military positions-that is, when the fight occurs some one is apt to be hurt; otherwise, I think the position comfortable. I have thought our position so strong at the point objected to by the engineers that I have been urging General G. W. C. Lee to hurry the work on his bombproof as much as possible, in order that I may serve the enemy the trick that the engineer officers apprehend he is about to serve me. The men are so much exposed along that part of the line whilst at work that I am anxious to finish the bombproof before we begin to fire.
I remain, general, most respectfully, your obedient servant,