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Civil War Trust

Robert E. Lee to Jefferson Davis

March 30, 1864
Robert E. Lee

In the following letter Robert E. Lee writes to President Jefferson Davis concerning the intelligence Lee currently has on the Union Army.  In the letter Lee warns Davis of secret operations and U.S. Grant's arrival in the East. Lee also asks for the return of his regiments from the West.

Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia
March 30, 1864

Mr. President:

Since my former letter on the subject the indications that operations in Virginia will be vigorously prosecuted by the enemy are stronger than they then were.   Genl Grant has returned from the army in the West.   He is at present with the Army of the Potomac, which is being reorganized and recruited.   From the reports of our scouts the impression prevails in that army that he will operate it in the coming campaign.   Every train brings it recruits, & it is stated that every available regiment at the North is added to it.   It is also reported that Genl Burnside is organizing a large army at Annapolis, & it seems probable that additional troops are being sent to the [Shenandoah] Valley.   It is stated that preparations are making to rebuild the railroad from Harper's Ferry to Winchester [Virginia], with would indicate a reoccupation of the latter place.   The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad is very closely guarded along its whole extent.   No ingress or egress from their lines is permitted to citizens as heretofore, and everything shows secrecy & preparation.   Their plans are not sufficiently developed to discover them, but I think we can assume that if Genl Grant is to direct operations on this frontier he will concentrate a large force on one or more lines, & prudence dictates that we should make such preparations as are in our power.   If an aggressive movement can be made in the West it will disconcert their plans & oblige them to conform to ours.   But if it cannot, Longstreet should be held in readiness to be thrown rapidly in the Valley if necessary to counteract any movement in that quarter, in accomplishing which I could unite with him, or he unite with me, should circumstances require it on the Rapidan.   The time is also near at hand when I shall require all the troops belonging to this army.   I have delayed calling for Genl Hoke, who, besides his own brigade, has two regiments of another of this army, under the expectation that the object of his visit to North Carolina may yet be accomplished.   I have heard nothing on the subject recently, & if our papers are correct in their information, the enemy has thrown reinforcements into that State, & the Neuse is barricaded just above New Berne.   There is another brigade of this army, Genl R. D. Johnston's at Hanover Junction [Virginia].   I should like as soon as possible to get them both back.

I am with great respect, your most obt svt
R. E. Lee
Genl

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