of General Sherman above suggested would also intercept the march of Stewart's and Cheatham's corps, which, as I understand, are advancing east of Columbia to join the forces under Beauregard in front of Sherman. If a junction of these troops cannot be effected at once with the rest of the army they should be kept upon the enemy's flank so as to embarrass his movements until such time as they can be united with the others. I need not say that the first thing to be done is to concentrate all our forces and bring out every available man. If this can be accomplished in time to strike General Sherman before he reaches the coast or unites with Schofield, I hope for favorable results. His progress can be embarrassed and retarded by removing or destroying all kinds of supplies on his route, and I hope you will spare no effort to accomplish this object. You will have to depend upon marching, to a great extent, for the movement of your troops, and upon wagons for transporting supplies. Should your operations bring you within reach of the troops under General Bragg, and you find that they can be used to advantage, of course you will direct their movements. In this connection I call your attention to the fact that a column of the enemy is reported as preparing to move by Kinston toward Goldsborough, to oppose which there is only a small force under General Baker. If, on the other hand, General Sherman should advance northwardly toward Greensborough and Danville and we cannot check him, it will become necessary for this army to change its position. I am endeavoring to hold General Grant in check as long as possible and resist any attempt he may make to co-operate with the Federal forces in North Carolina. At this time nothing can be sent from here to your assistance, but should the enemy reach the Roanoke, I should endeavor to unite with you to strike him, or if opportunity occurred, to attack General Rant if he follows me rapidly. This outline will explain generally the positure of affairs. It is needless for me to call your attention to the vital importance of checking General Sherman and preserving our railroad communications as far as practicable. I rely confidently upon you to do all that the means at your disposal will permit, and hoe for the most favorable issue. You can depend upon receiving all the assistance I can render. Please keep me advised of the enemy's movements, and of your own, that I may be able to co-operate as far as practicable. It will be well to call upon the State authorities to set to work at once to repair the roads as they are left open by the advance of the enemy.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
CHARLOTTE, N. C., February 23, 1865.
General R. E. LEE,
General Beauregard has given orders for the concentration of all his forces. Lieutenant-General Hardee is moving by Florence and Cheraw, and Major-General Cheatham and Lieutenant-General Stewart by Newberry. In front of the Federal army are the cavalry and S. D. Lee's corps, 3,000; Stewart and Cheatham, 3,200; Lieutenant-General Hardee's, about 11,000; cavalry, about 6,000. I suggest that General Bragg's troops join these. Can Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson, assistant adjutant-general, join me? I have no staff, that of the Army of Tennessee being dispersed.
J. E. JOHNSTON.