Telegram in Cipher.
Petersburg Dec. 14 1864.
His Exc[ellenc]y. The President.
Chief Commissary of this Army received notice yesterday from Richmond that there was no salt meat there to send him, but would forward preserved meat. He thinks he may get enough to last tomorrow. Neither meat nor corn are now coming over the Southern Roads, and I have heard there was meat in Wilmington.(1)
(Signed) R. E. Lee
Genl. R. E. Lee
Petersburg Dec. 14, 1864.
Secty. of War,
Please inform me, what has been or can be done to meet the case as presented within.
14 Dec. 64.
Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:
(1) Little at Wilmington and but 40,000 pounds at Raleigh, N. C. (see telegram of Dec. 22, 1864, infra, No. 175). This telegram, unimportant in itself, gives a glimpse of the spectre that was to haunt Lee’s army through the winter,—virtual starvation. A commissary which had been poor at best was now weakened still more by the destruction of supplies in the Shenandoah Valley and in Georgia. The speedy closing of the Cape Fear River was to cut off the blockade-runners who had brought “Nassau bacon.”
- 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 In 1915, some of Lee’s previously unpublished letters and dispatches to Jefferson Davis and the War Department were published in Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America, 1862-65.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. ↩
- 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 Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. A. to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America 1862-65.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. 307-308 ↩