is trying to reach the Roanoke, at Weldon, and them get around our right, he cannot hurt us greatly, if we can bet Beauregard's army up.
I remain very respectfully, your obedient servant,
February 23, 1865.
Major R. P. DUNCAN, Assistant Adjutant-General:
MAJOR: I have nothing to report this morning of unusual interest. Sixteen of Gracie's nine of Wallace's and ten of Wise's brigade deserted to the enemy. One officer wounded of Ransom's brigade.
B. R. JOHNSON,
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., February 24, 1865.
General R. E. LEE:
Should preparation only be made for evacuation of Richmond? or do you advise the removal at once of public stores, archives, &c.?
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS C. S. ARMIES,
February 24, 1865.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR, Richmond:
SIR: I regret to be obliged to call your attention to the alarming number of desertions that are now occurring in the army. Since the 12th instant they amount in two divisions of Hill's corps, those of Wilcox and Heth, to about 400. There are a good many from other commands. The desertions are chiefly from the North Carolina regiments, and especially those from the western part of that State. It seems that the men are influenced very much by the representations of their friends at home, who appear to have become very despondent as to our success. They think the cause desperate and write to the soldiers, advising them to take care of themselves, assuring them that if they will return home the bands of deserters so far outnumber the home guards that they will be in no danger of arrest. I do not know what can be done to prevent this evil, unless some change can be wrought in the state of public sentiment by the influence of prominent citizens of the State. The deserters generally take their arms with them. I shall do all in my power to remedy the evil by a stern enforcement of the law, but that alone will not suffice. I have thought that you might be able to enlist the aid of prominent citizens of North Carolina, who might do something to cheer and stimulate the people. These desertions have a very bad effect upon the troops who remain and give rise to painful apprehension.
I submit the matter t your judgment, hoping that you will be able to devise some remedy.
Very respectfully, your obedient, servant,
R. E. LEE,