LT: March 21, 1865 Robert E. Lee



in Lee Robert E.

No. 191.



Head Qrs. Mar 21/65.

Hon. J. C. Breckenridge,

Secy. of War.(1)

Genl. Vaughan reports this morning “that Thomas is at Knoxville, that three regiments and some negro troops are repairing the East Tennessee Railroad, and that enemy have commenced their advance.”

Genl. J. E. Johnston, at 9.20 A.M., at Bentonville, reports: “that he is removing his wounded to Smithfield;—the enemy’s entrenched position and greatly superior numbers, Sherman’s army being in our front, make further offensive movements impracticable.”(2)

R. E. Lee

Respectfully submitted for the information of the President

By order

J. A. Campbell

             Asst. Secy, of War.

Mar 22/65.1,2


Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:

(1) Succeeded James A. Seddon of Virginia on February 6, 1865. The name is properly Breckinridge, but is frequently spelled Breckenridge in official correspondence.

(2) This information was repeated in a dispatch from General Lee bearing date of March 22. Cf. O. R., 49, 2, 1141.



  1. Editor’s Note: Many Confederate records from 1864 were lost during Lee’s retreat from Richmond and Petersburg.  As a result, many useful primary sources from the Confederate side are simply never going to be available.  What might be less well known is that not all of Robert E. Lee’s known writings from the time of the Petersburg Campaign were put into the Official Records.  In 1915, some of Lee’s previously unpublished letters and dispatches to Jefferson Davis and the War Department were published in Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America, 1862-65. These letters and dispatches came from the private collection of Wymberley Jones De Renne of Wormsloe, Georgia.   Many of these letters and telegrams contain insight into the Siege of Petersburg, and will appear here 150 years to the day after they were written by Lee.  The numbering system used in the book will also be utilized here, but some numbers may be missing because the corresponding letter or dispatch does not pertain directly to the Siege of Petersburg.
  2. Freeman, Douglas Southall (ed.). Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. A. to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America 1862-65. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1915, p. 338


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