Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 5, 1863 (Wednesday): Lee and the Politics of Command

General W. E. Jones

October 5, 1863.
President Confederate States, Richmond, Va.:
    Mr. PRESIDENT: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 1st. I hope there was a mistake as to the strength of Bragg's army. His effective strength, given me by General Cooper before the battle, and before the addition of Longstreet's corps, was 76,219; Bragg's 51,101 and Buckner's 16,118, plus 9,000 from Johnston's army. I think if Your Excellency could make it convenient to visit that country, you would be able to reconcile many difficulties and unite the scattered troops.
    I wrote to you that I could spare General Iverson for the cavalry in Georgia. He is the only man I can think of for the situation. I would also recommend that General W. E. Jones be assigned to the command of the cavalry lately under Deshler, unless there is with that army a better man for the place. I consider General Jones a brave and intelligent officer, and his feelings have become so opposed to General Stuart that I have lost all hope of his being useful in the cavalry here. He tendered his resignation befor the expedition to Pennsylvania, which I withheld. He has been subsequently tried by court-martial for disrespect and the proceedings are now in Richmond. I understand he says he will no longer serve under Stuart, and I do not think it would be advatageous for him to do so, but I wish to make him useful. I can replace him by Colonel Rosser, Fifth Virginia Cavalry, an excellent officer in the field, who is prompt, cool, and fearless, and has been twice wounded in this war. He resigned his position as cadet at the U. S. Military Academy, just before the period of his graduation. When the war commenced, served first in the artillery, with some distinction, and subsequently was transferred to the cavalry. As soon as the proceedings of the court are published, I shall be obliged to relieve Jones from the command of his brigade, which, in fact, has been without its commander ever since the army crossed the Potomac.
     I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 772.

Rosser would not live up to Lee's high expectations for him, but was certainly a passable replacement for Jones.  Iverson could always be spared from any assignment given him, especially after his poor performance at Gettysburg.  The number of troops available to Bragg was a point of considerable interest.  Lee most likely was late to know Longstreet was, even as this letter was being written, attempting to remove Pickett's Corp from around Petersburg and have it sent west to him.

No comments:

Post a Comment