of the office of General-in-Chief.* I know I am indebted entirely to your indulgence and kind consideration for this honorable position. I must beg you to continue these same feelings to me in the future and allow me to refer to you at all times for counsel and advise. I cannot otherwise hope to be of service to you or the country. If I can relieve you from a portion of the constant labor and anxiety which now presses upon you, and maintain a harmonious action between the great armies, I shall be more than compensated for the addition to my present burdens. I must, however, rely upon the several commanders for the conduct of the military operations with which they are charged, and hold them responsible. In the event of their neglect or failure I must ask for their removal. As it is necessary to bring every man back to the ranks that we can, I beg leave to submit for your approval the following proposition: To allow me to proclaim by your authority a pardon to all deserters and absentees who will return to their regiments or companies within thirty days from the date of its publication at the headquarters of the military departments, with the assurance that this will be the last act of amnesty extended for such offenses, and with the promise that hereafter all such offenders will receive the full sentence of the courts upon their conviction, without suspension, remission, or delay, from which there need be no appeal for clemency. I propose of except from this act of forgiveness those who, having been once pardoned, have repeated the offense, and all those who have entered the service of the enemy. All who may desert after the publication of the order shall receive quick and merited punishment. This may be of some service and do some good. It is the only method that I can propose to cause the return of our absentees, and perhaps of done at this time, when we may expect a reaction of public sentiment, the people at home may force them out. The reason why I think it better to issue such an order under my name and by your authorhaving before proclaimed a pardon, should you repeat it many might hereafter persuade themselves that it would again be offered them, and be again tempted to desert. I would go up to consult with you in person in this and other matters, but I do not feel at liberty to leave at this time. May I request you to give me an early answer to this proposition, as there is no time to be lost.+
With great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
Between Amelia Springs and Jetersville, April 5, 1865-6.30 p. m.
General R. E. LEE
GENERAL: Since the last dispatch I sent you, with reference to the presence of the enemy among the wagon trains, I have the honor to report that I attacked them near Paineville, routed them, and pursued them within a mile of Jetersville, until I heard that their infantry was at that point, when I discontinued the pursuit. I had a very few killed and wounded, among the latter General Dearing, slightly, and Major Thomson, of the artillery. We killed 30 (left on the field), wounded quite a number (principally bad saber wounds), and captured 100 prisoners. I think the mass of the enemy's cavalry have gone farther
*See VOL. XLVI, Part Ii, p. 1226.
+For reply, see February 10, ibid., p. 1228.