War of the Rebellion: Serial 096 Page 1253 Chapter LVIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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hesitation as to the future; at no time has the embarrassment as to supplies been so great; at no time have the embarrassments attending the holding of Richmond been apparently greater.

For these reasons, in my judgment, some policy should be adopted.

Very respectfully,


Assistant Secretary of War.


February 23, 1865.

General R. E. LEE,

Commanding, &c.:

GENERAL: Your letter of yesterday is received. I think you did not understand my letter of the 14th instant. My effort was to express my conviction that Sherman's move was aimed at Richmond, and that Grant's concentration here would force us to do the same thing, and that we might be able to do so it was necessary that we should get gold by impressment to purchase our provisions with. I think that it is not too late yet. We can surely get the gold be sending the impressing officers with guards to the vaults, in which it is stored.

I understand that there are 1,200 men in Lynchburg-locals and detailed men-already organized, and that we may get 8,000 or 10,000 men from Richmond by taking everybody who is able to bear arms. The staff officers about Richmond would be nearly enough to officer this force. If such a force can be raised and put in my lines it can hold them, I think, and my corps cap run down to the relief of General Beauregard, or it may be moved over to our right, and hold Grant in check, so that Sherman will be obliged to unite with him, or seek a base at New Berne or Wilmington. This would give Beauregard and Bragg time to unite their forces to meet Sherman and Schofield here, or wherever they may appear. I am of the opinion that there is not much fight in Grant's army, and there can't be a great deal in Sheman's after his long march. I believe, therefore, that we can beat either back, by a little skillful handing of our men. We shall lose more men by a move than by a battle. It is true that we might compelled to move after the battle, but I think not. If we fight Sherman as I suggest we shall surely drive him to the water for fresh supplies, even if we are not otherwise successful. Then we shall have time to concentrate as soon as Grant, and to reopen our line of communication with the south.

The local and other troops that we may get from Richmond and Lynchburg will have tolerably comfortable huts, and there will be enough old soldiers amongst them to teach them picket duty. There are also some cavalrymen who can aid them.

I should think that Grant, if he moves, can only make a partial move, similar to his last, and that would not injure us very materially. In preparing to take the field, in view of the abandonment of Richmond, is it your desire to keep our wagons about our camps, that we may at once? Our wagons are out all the time gathering supplies, and a times at some distance, so that a very sudden move would leave them behind. Shall we continue to send them or keep them with us?

My ideas are given rather hastily upon so grave a matter, as I only received your letter this afternoon. I will write again to-morrow, if I find that I can give you any aid. I am firm in the belief that if Sherman