Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 10, 1864 (Saturday): Longstreet Eyes Washington

Nenney House, Russelville TN (Longsteet's HQ)


Russellville, E. Tenn., January 10, 1864.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: I have been trying to work out some plan by which we may be begin operations before the enemy, and at lest disconcert his plans. I do not think we can do anything here or at Chattanooga. I have concluded there is no other opportunity but in Virginia. If we could leave our cavalry here to destroy the railroad and take our infantry to Virginia, it seems to me that we might, by using the turnpike roads, throw our forces behind General Meade me catch him in the mud, and either push on and get Washington or fight him to greater advantage than we can have anywhere else; or you might make arrangements to mount a corps, for locomotion, and throw it with your cavalry behind Meade, and let it push on and get Washington. These plans cannot be well digested, as I have no information as to the difficulties, &c.
    If the plan to mount a corps is thought practicable we should take every precaution to prevent its being known or suspected and I would suggest that in collecting saddles for the purpose that the Quartermaster-General be ordered to collect them for General Kirby Smith, and let the horses and mules be got together in General Johnston's name. We could begin to retire from here about the 10th of February, and upon reaching Briston have transportation for Gordonsville ready. Everything should be in readiness for us upon our arrival at Gordonsville or Staunton, so that we should meet with no delay. This should be by the 1st of March, so as to have the full benefit of the bad roads. My position under present circumstances seems to be somewhat precarious. I am just strong enough to tempt the enemy to concentrate against me, and either destroy me or drive me back as far as chooses.
     General Johnston cannot aid me, as the enemy can occupy this fortifications about Chattanooga, and send up such forces here as he chooses. We should have the means of communication and cooperation, or we should not allow armies to lie between us.
    I remain, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

    Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

Official Record, Series I., Vol. 32, Part 2, Pages 541-542.

Longstreet concluded he would receive no support from Richmond for his plans in Tennessee.  So, he made the interesting proposal to Lee to return back east and combine with him to gain Meade's rear and make a rapid movement on WashingtonThe weather would argue against the plan, and it was no adopted, but it presaged, in a way, Early's run at Washington in the Monocacy campaign.

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