Robert E. Lee
Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia
March 30, 1864
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
SOURCE: Reprinted in Clifford Dowdey, editor,
The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee (New York: Bramhall House, 1961), pages 687-688.
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