Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 1863 (Friday): Longstreet Has Other Ideas

Longstreet Statue at Gettysburg

September 2, 1863.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: Your letter of the 31st is received. I have exprssed to Generals Ewell and Hill your wishes, and am doing all that can be done to be well prepared with my own command. Our greatest difficulty will be in preparing our animals. I do not know that we can reasonably hope to accomplish much here by offensive operations, unless you are strong enough to cross the Potomac. If we advance to meet the enemy on this side, he will, in all probability, go into one of his many fortified positions; these we cannot afford to attack.
   I know but little of the condition of our affairs in the west, but am inclined to the opinion that our best opportunity for great results is in Tennessee. If we could hold the defensive here with two corps, and send the other to operate in Tennessee with that army, I think that we could accomplish more than by an advance from here.
    The enemy seems to have settled down upon the plan of holding certain points by fortifying and defending, while he concentrates upon others. It seems to me that this must succeed, unless we can concentrate ourselves, and, at the same time make occasional show of active operations at all points. I know of no other means of acting upon that principle at present, excepting to depend upon our fortifications in Virginia, and concentrate with one corps of this army, and such as may be drawn from others, in Tennessee, and destroy Rosecrans' army. I feel assured that this is practicable, and that greater advantage will be gained that by any operations from here. I remain, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

    Lieutenant- General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Pages 693-694.

 Longstreet had long wished to be detached for Western service and would soon get his wish in the Chickamauga Campaign.  It would seem a reasonable guess to believe Longstreet knew more about the effort in Richmond to secure his and his corps' services than he would admit directly to.  But Lee must have read this with some sense of Longstreet's involvement in the matters he had just been summoned to Richmond to discuss.  It should be remembered during the Chancellorsville campaign Longstreet wrote an almost identical letter to Lee regarding why Lee should be able to hold Northern Virginia with Longstreet's corp remaining in the Suffolk region.  Lee treated both Jackson and Longstreet with perhaps more defference than he should, failing to show the aggressive nature he brought to his campaigns to his dealings with his subordinates.

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