Monday, September 2, 2013

August 31, 1863 (Wednesday): Confidential to General Longstreet

General James Longstreet

RICHMOND, VA., August 31, 1863.
Lieutenant General J. LONGSTREET,
Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia:
     GENERAL: I have wished for several days past to return to the army, but have been detained by the President. He will not listen to my proposition to leave to-morrow. I hope you will use every exertion to prepare the army for offensive operations and improve the condition of men and animals. I can see nothing better to be done than to endeavor to bring General Meade out and use our efforts to crush his army while in its present condition. The Quartermaster's Department promises to send up 3,000 bushels of corn per day, provided the cars can be unloaded and returned without delay. I hope you will be able to arrange so that the cars will not be detained. With this supply of corn, if it can be maintained, the condition of our animals should improve.
      Very respectfully and truly, yours,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 761.

Lee knew Davis desired to detach Longstreet's Corp to send to Bragg's aid but a final decision had not been reached.  Lee wanted to mount one last offensive in the fall to crush Meade's Army of the Potomac.  A careful reading of this message reveals Gettysburg had far less of an impact on Lee's Army than might be imagined, since Lee still believed the Army of Northern Virginia capable of crushing Meade.

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