War of the Rebellion: Serial 109 Page 0750 Chapter LXIII. MD., E. N. C., PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

former position in rear of Fredericksburg than myself that I hesitate to express an opinion; but as you request it, will say that because of the facility with which your former position may be turned or approached from the rear, and its proximity to the enemy's base, it would seem to me more advisable to take a position farther to the rear before accepting the offer of battle. A well selected position, which would enable the troops covering Richmond to unite with the Army of Northern Virginia without exposing the capital to attack by a hostile force on the Peninsula, whould seem better suited to our condition of numerical inferiority. If such a position were selected and strongly intrenched and supplied with siege batteries, it might be possible by falling back upon, it after the enemy advanced to attack, to draw him upon our lines of defense. I assume that he would not attack you in an intrenched position unless draw upon it by strategy, as the country is so open that he may easily avoind a fortified locality. If he advances in the direction indicated by your telegram, my recollection of the topography is that a strong position may be taken on the south side of the Rapidan, where this bank commands than on the north and where the approaches to the river are over open fields. My observation was, however, very limited, and I have no reliable map for reference. For what purpose would the enemy move his main force toward Gordonsville? Can it be to sever Richmond from the west? Or is it to try a new route to the capital? The siege of Charleston progresses slowly, but there are reports of re-enforcements to the enemy. if true, it will require us to send troops to Beauregard. I think we can withdraw them from Johnston's army. I will not disturb your mind by reciting my troubles about distant operations. You were requred in the field and I deprived myself of the support you gave me here. I need your counsel, but strive to meet the requirements of the hour without distracting your attention at a time when it should be concentrated on the field before you.

As never, truly, your friend,




August 3, 1863-9 a. m.

[General R. E. LEE:]

GENERAL: No change since yesterday perceptible. Scouths were near the bridge last night and report incessant work as if on bridge. The same heavy dust prevails this side of the bridge as yesterday. I am disposed to believe enemy will entertain us with a threat of advance and wait for re-enforcements. The very improbable part of the report of prisoners to General Fitz. Lee is that the Twelfth Corps was moving so secretly. Now, if the Twelfth Corps crosses over here it is very importable that that corps would be taken back for the flank movement. I sent some scouts across below here and some above in addition to those already over. Just heard from Amissville. At least a brigade of cavalry still there. Last night a rumbling of wagons was heard at Beverly all night moving from the direction of Warrenton to Rappahannock bridge. It was not heard to proceed beyond that point. There are no facts on which we can predicate a conclusion yet, but we will watch the enemy. Two notes received this morning. Fitz. Lee will not come while there is any prospect of an advance.

Most respectfully,