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LT: June 9, 1864 Robert E. Lee

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 have been lost.  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  In 1915, some of Lee’s previously unpublished letters and dispatches to Jefferson Davis and the War Department were published in Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America, 1862-65.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.

No. 121.

H[EA]D Q[UARTE]RS Army N[orthern] V[irgini]a.

9th June 1864.

His Exc[ellenc]y Jeff Davis

President C[onfederate]. States

Mr. President,

In my report to the Hon[orable] Sec[re]t[ar]y of War yesterday evening,(1) I stated that Gen[eral] Sheridan with a large force of cavalry had crossed the Pamunky in the afternoon of the 7th at New Castle Ferry, and encamped that night about Dunkirk and Aylett’s on the Matapony. He was accompanied by artillery, wagons, ambulances, and beef cattle. I have received no definite information as to his purpose, but conjecture that his object is to cooperate with Gen[eral] Hunter, and endeavor to reach the James, breaking the railroads &c as he passes, and probably to descend on the south side of that river.(2) I think it necessary to be on our guard and make every arrangement in our power to thwart his purpose and protect our communications and country. I have directed Gen[eral]s. Hampton and Fitz Lee with their divisions to proceed in the direction of Hanover Junction, and thence, if the information they receive justifies it, along the Central R. R., keeping the enemy on their right, and shape their course according to his. The pause in the operations of Gen[eral]. Grant induces me to believe that he is awaiting the effect of movements in some other quarter to make us change our position, and renders the suggestion I make with reference to the intention and destination of Gen[eral] Sheridan more probable. It was stated by a prisoner captured yesterday belonging to Gen[eral]. Sheridan’s command, that they had heard that Gen[eral] Morgan was in P[ennsylvani]a. and that they were going in pursuit. I mention this improbable story as you may know whether there is any truth in the statement with reference to Gen[eral] Morgan. A negro servant belonging to our army who had been captured by the enemy, made his escape from Gen[eral] Sheridan yesterday at 10 A.M. near Mangonick Church, and was under the impression that they would encamp that night at Bowling Green. Three prisoners brought in to Gen[eral] Hampton confirm in part the statement of the servant.

An extract from the Philadelphia Inquirer published in our papers reports that the army of the N[orth] West under Gen[eral] Pope was on its way to reinforce that of the Potomac, and a gentleman from the Valley says that a force of two or three thousand men, believed to be under Gen[eral] Pope was moving to join Gen Hunter, and should have reached Staunton by this time.(3) There may be therefore some probability in the story. I do not know whence reinforcements can be drawn to our armies unless Gen[eral] Kirby Smith can cross a part of his force to join Gen[eral]. Johnston and enable him to assume the offensive.

Very respectfully

Your obt servt

R. E. Lee


Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:

(1) O. R., 36, 3, 879.

(2) Except in so far as the return on the south side of the James was concerned, this forecast was in precise accord with General Grant’s plans.

(3) See supra, No. 119, Note 4. Hunter had reached Staunton the previous day. For Grant’s ideas as to the possible outcome of Sheridan’s raid to look for Hunter, see his report, O. R., 35, 1, 24.


No. 122.

Dated Mechanicsville June 9 1864.

4.45 P.M.

Rec’d at Richmond 6 O’Clock 30 Mins. P.M.

To Genl. Bragg.

Your dispatch of one O’Clock just received. Have ordered Ransom’s Brigade(1) to march by route it came to Gen. Beauregard. If not necessary please countermand order.

R. E. Lee


Mechanicsville June 9th.

R. E. Lee Genl.

Has received Dispatch of 1 O’Clock to-day. Has ordered Ransom’s Brigade to cross James River by route it came, to report to Beauregard. Asks to be countermanded if not necessary.

R. B. 1110
Rec[eive]d. H[e]ad. Q[uarte]rs. A. C. S. June 9th2


Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:

(1) Ransom’s brigade, it will be remembered, had been sent to General Lee by Beauregard on June 4. Their return at this time was demanded by the advance of a column toward Petersburg. This attack was met and repulsed the same day (O. R., 1, 36, 3, 884-85).


No. 123.


Dated Mechanicsville Road 9 J[une]

Received at Richmond June 9 1864 9 O’Clock P.M.

To General Bragg.

I have received & acknowledged all your dispatches either by telegraph or courier.(1)

R. E. Lee

D. H.                                                                   Genl.

(Recd. 9:10 P.m. June 9)

H[ea]d. Q[uarter]s. A[rmy]. N[orthern]. V[irginia]a. June 9th. [18]64   9 P.M.

R. E. Lee

Has rec[eive]d. & acknowledged all dispatches.

R. B. 1102
Rec[eive]d. H[ea]d. Q[uarte]rs. A. C. S. June 9th. [18]64.3


Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:

(1) There is no evidence in this correspondence that General Lee resented the temporary supervision of General Bragg who at this time was acting as military adviser to the President and had practically supplanted the Secretary of War. During the time of Bragg’s stay in Richmond, Lee, as previously, sent important communications direct to President Davis.



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