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 In 1915, some of Lee’s previously unpublished letters and dispatches to Jefferson Davis and the War Department were published in Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America, 1862-65.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.
Head Qrs Army N. Va.
June 17th 1864.
Hon. J. A. Seddon,
Secy, of War,
Genl. Beauregard telegraphs that last night the enemy assaulted his lines twice and were repulsed, leaving 400 prisoners, including eleven commissioned officers, in our hands.(1) To-day the enemy carried a weak point in his lines. Our troops assaulted and carried our original lines near Bermuda Hundreds with slight loss on our part.(2)
Your obdt servt
(Signed) R E Lee
Respectfully submitted for the information of the President.
James A. Seddon
Secretary of War. June 18/64.
Copy Telegram to Sec War
Genl Lee Hd Qrs A N V June 17, 64
Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:
(1) This information was already in the hands of the War Department. See Beauregard to Bragg, June 16, 1864, 9:45 P.M.(O. R., 40, 2, 660).
(2) Cf. Lee to Davis, June 17, 1864, 10:30 A.M., in which these movements are explained more in detail (O. R., loc. tit., 661-62). The operations of June 17 practically restored the Confederate army to the strategic positions it had occupied south of the James before Grant moved his base. Within a few days the lines were drawn around Petersburg and were not materially changed until that city was evacuated.
- 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 Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. A. to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America 1862-65.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, pp. 247-248 ↩