Number 267. Appomattox Reports of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Northern Virginia

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 267. Reports of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Northern Virginia.1

HEADQUARTERS,
March 29, 1865. [Via Petersburg. Received 1.45.]

Enemy are reported to have crossed Hatcher’s Run at Monk’s Neck Bridge with infantry and cavalry, moving toward Dinwiddie Court-House.

R. E. LEE.

Honorable J. C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War, Richmond.

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES,
March 29, 1865. [Received 11.15 p.m.]

The enemy crossed Hatcher’s Run this morning at Monk’s Neck Bridge with a large force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, and to-night his left extended to Dinwiddie Court-House. Gregg’s cavalry advanced a mile and a half on Ford’s road toward the South Side Railroad. General Anderson moved out from his position and struck his column near the intersection of the Quaker road and Boydton plank road, but did not succeed in driving him back.

R. E. LEE.

Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR,
Richmond.
[Copy sent to the President.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 1, 1865.

SIR: After my dispatch of last night I received a report from General Pickett, who, with three of his own brigades and two of General Johnson’s, supported the cavalry under General Fitz Lee near Five Forks, on the road from Dinwiddie Court-House to the South Side road. After considerable difficulty, and meeting resistance from the enemy at all points, General Pickett forced his way to within less than a mile of Dinwiddie Court-House. By this time it was too dark for further operations, and General Pickett resolved to return to Five Forks to protect

his communication with the railroad. He inflicted considerable damage upon the enemy and took some prisoners. His own loss was severe, including a good many officers. General Terry had his horse killed by a shell and was disabled himself. General Fitz Lee’s and Rosser’s divisions were heavily engaged, but their loss was slight. General W. H. F. Lee lost some valuable officers. General Pickett did not retire from the vicinity of Dinwiddie Court-House until early this morning, when, his left flank being threatened by a heavy force, he withdrew to Five Forks, where he took position with General W. H. F. Lee on his right, Fitz Lee and Rosser on his left, with Roberts’ brigade on the White Oak road connecting with General Anderson. The enemy attacked General Roberts with a large force of cavalry, and after being once repulsed finally drove him back across Hatcher’s Run.

A large force of infantry, believed to be the Fifth Corps, with other troops, turned General Pickett’s left and drove him back on the White Oak road, separating him from General Fitz Lee, who was compelled to fall back across Hatcher’s Run. General Pickett’s present position is not known. General Fitz Lee reports that the enemy is massing his infantry heavily behind the cavalry in his front. The infantry that engaged General Anderson yesterday has moved from his front toward our right, and is supposed to participate in the operations above described. Prisoners have been taken to-day from the Twenty-fourth Corps, and it is believed that most of that corps is now south of the James. Our loss to-day is not known. A report from Staunton represents that the Eighth Corps passed over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from the 20th to the 25th ultimo. General Hancock is at Harper’s Ferry with 2,000 men. One division of the Nineteenth Corps is at Winchester, with about 1,000 cavalry. The infantry at Winchester have marching orders, and all these troops are said to be destined for all his troops from Wolf Run Shoals and Fairfax Station, and to be concentrating them at Winchester.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,
General.

Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR,
Richmond.

HEADQUARTERS,
April 2, 1865. [Via Petersburg. Received 10.40 o’clock.]

I see no prospect of doing more than holding our position here till night. I am not certain that I can do that. If I can I shall withdraw to-night north of the Appomattox, and, if possible, it will be better to withdraw the whole line to-night from James River. The brigades on Hatcher’s Run are cut off from us; enemy have broken through our lines and intercepted between us and them, and there is no bridge over which they can cross the Appomattox this side of Goode’s or Beaver’s, which are not very far from the Danville railroad. Our only chance, then, of concentrating our forces, is to do so near Danville railroad, which I shall endeavor to do at once. I advise that all preparation be made for leaving Richmond to-night. I will advise you later, according to circumstances.

R. E. LEE.

General J. C. BRECKINRIDGE.

HEADQUARTERS,
April 2, 1865. [Received 4.55 o’clock.]

I think the Danville road will be safe until to-morrow.

R. E. LEE.

General J. C. BRECKINRIDGE, Secretary of War, Richmond.

PETERSBURG, April 2, 1865.
[Received 7 o’clock.]

It is absolutely necessary that we should abandon our position to-night, or run the risk of being cut off in the morning. I have given all the orders to officers on both sides of the river, and have taken every precaution that I can to make the movement successful. It will be a difficult operation, but I hope not impracticable. Please give all orders that you find necessary in and about Richmond. The troops will all be directed to Amelia Court-House.

R. E. LEE.

General J. C. BRECKINRIDGE, Secretary of War, Richmond.

NEAR APPOMATTOX COURT-HOUSE, VA.,
April 12, 1865.

Mr. PRESIDENT: It is with pain that I announce to Your Excellency the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. The operations which preceded this result will be reported in full. I will therefore only now state that, upon arriving at Amelia Court-House on the morning of the 4th with the advance of the army, on the retreat from the lines in front of Richmond and Petersburg, and not finding the supplies ordered to be placed there, nearly twenty-four hours were lost in endeavoring to collect in the country subsistence for men and horses. This delay was fatal, and could not be retrieved. The troops, wearied by continual fighting and marching for several days and nights, obtained neither rest nor refreshment; and on moving, on the 5th, on the Richmond and Danville Railroad, I found at Jetersville the enemy’s cavalry, and learned the approach of his infantry and the general advance of his army toward Burkeville. This deprived us of the use of the railroad, and rendered it impracticable to procure from Danville the supplies ordered to meet us at points of our march. Nothing could be obtained from the adjacent country. Our route to the Roanoke was therefore changed, and the march directed upon Farmville, where supplies were ordered from Lynchburg. The change of route threw the troops over the roads pursued by the artillery and wagon trains west of the railroad, which impeded our advance and embarrassed our movements. On the morning of the 6th General Longstreet’s corps reached Rice’s Station, on the Lynchburg railroad. It was followed by the commands of Generals R. H. Anderson, Ewell, and Gordon, with orders to close upon it as fast as the progress of the trains would permit or as they could be directed on roads farther west. General Anderson, commanding Pickett’s and B. R. Johnson’s divisions, became disconnected with Mahone’s division, forming the rear of Longstreet. The enemy’s cavalry penetrated the line of march through the interval thus left and attacked the wagon train moving toward Farmville. This caused serious delay in the march of the center and rear of the column, and enabled the enemy to mass upon their flank. After successive attacks Anderson’s and Ewell’s corps were captured or driven from

their position. The latter general, with both of his division commanders, Kershaw and Custis Lee, and his brigadiers, were taken prisoners. Gordon, who all the morning, aided by General W. H. F. Lee’s cavalry, had checked the advance of the enemy on the road from Amelia Springs and protected the trains, became exposed to his combined assaults, which he bravely resisted and twice repulsed; but the cavalry having been withdrawn to another part of the line of march, and the enemy massing heavily on his front and both flanks, renewed the attack about 6 p.m., and drove him from the field in much confusion.

The army continued its march during the night, and every effort was made to reorganize the divisions which had been shattered by the day’s operations; but the men being depressed by fatigue and hunger, many threw away their arms, while others followed the wagon trains and embarrassed their progress. On the morning of the 7th rations were issued to the troops as they passed Farmville, but the safety of the trains requiring their removal upon the approach of the enemy all could not be supplied. The army, reduced to two corps, under Longstreet and Gordon, moved steadily on the road to Appomattox Court-House; thence its march was ordered by Campbell Court-House, through Pittsylvania, toward Danville. The roads were wretched and the progress slow. By great efforts the head of the column reached Appomattox Court-House on the evening of the 8th, and the troops were halted for rest. The march was ordered to be resumed at 1 a.m. on the 9th. Fitz Lee, with the cavalry, supported by Gordon, was ordered to drive the enemy from his front, wheel to the left, and cover the passage of the trains; while Longstreet, who from Rice’s Station had formed the rear guard, should close up and hold the position. Two battalions of artillery and the ammunition wagons were directed to accompany the army, the rest of he artillery and wagons to move toward Lynchburg. In the early part of the night the enemy attacked Walker’s artillery train near Appomattox Station, on the Lynchburg railroad, and were repelled. Shortly afterward their cavalry dashed toward the Court-House, till halted by our line. During the night there were indications of a large force massing on our left and front. Fitz Lee was directed to ascertain its strength, and to suspend his advance till daylight if necessary. About 5 a.m. on the 9th, with Gordon on his left, he moved forward and opened the way. A heavy force of the enemy was discovered opposite Gordon’s right, which, moving in the direction of Appomattox Court-House, drove back the left of the cavalry and threatened to cut off Gordon from Longstreet, his cavalry at the same time threatening to envelop his left flank. Gordon withdrew across the Appomattox River, and the cavalry advanced on the Lynchburg road and became separated from the army.

Learning the condition of affairs on the lines, where I had gone under the expectation of meeting General Grant to learn definitely the terms he proposed in a communication received from him on the 8th, in the event of the surrender of the army, I requested a suspension of hostilities until these terms could be arranged. In the interview which occurred with General Grant in compliance with my request, terms having been agreed on, I surrendered that portion of the Army of Northern Virginia which was on the field, with its arms, artillery, and wagon trains, the officers and men to be paroled, retaining their side-arms and private effects. I deemed this course the best under all the circumstances by which we were surrounded. On the morning of the 9th, according to the reports of the ordnance officers, there were 7,892 organized infantry with arms, with an average of seventy-five rounds

of ammunition per man. The artillery, though reduced to sixty-three pieces, with ninety-three rounds of ammunition, was sufficient. These comprised all the supplies of ordnance that could be relied on in the State of Virginia. I have no accurate report of the cavalry, but believe it did not exceed 2,100 effective men. The enemy were more than five times our numbers. If we could have forced our way one day longer it would have been at a great sacrifice of life, and at its end I did not see how a surrender could have been avoided. We had no subsistence for man or horse, and it could not be gathered in the country. The supplies ordered to Pamplin’s Station from Lynchburg could not reach us, and the men, deprived of food and sleep for many days, were worn out and exhausted.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,
General.

His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS.

ADDENDA.

GENERAL ORDERS No. 9.,
HDQRS. ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 10, 1865.

After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources. I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them. But, feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.

With an increasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous considerations for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.*

R. E. LEE,
General.

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*See also version of this order as telegraphed April 14, 1865, by Honorable E. B. Washburne to Honorable E. M. Stanton, Part III, p. 744.

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Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pp. 1263-1267

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