Tuesday, April 22, 2014

February 25, 1864 (Friday): Checking On Sherman

General Stephen D. Lee

Starkville, Miss., February 25, 1864.
Brigadier General W. H. JACKSON,
Commanding, &c.:
   GENERAL: General Lee's headquarters will, for the present, be at Macon. He directs that you will at once establish a courier-line, consisting of three at a post, from your headquarters to Newtonville, near the line of Attala and Winston Counties, there to connect with General Forrest's line to Macon. During the general's absence you will assume command of Brigadier-General Ferguson's division, as well as of your own. He wishes you to take immediate steps for collecting all stragglers from your command and restoring them to duty.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General.

P. S.-The general wishes you to send scouts above, as well as below, Vicksburg for the purpose of ascertaining and reporting in which direction General Sherman's army is sent.
     Very respectfully,

     Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol.52, Part 2, Page 630.

Sherman had been sent to assist in Bank's Red River Valley expedition, but since the rivers were too low to allow for naval support, he decided to reenforce Vicksburg and central Mississippi.  Davis knew the potential threat Sherman's army created, and wanted it attacked.  Part of the problem was knowing exactly where Sherman was headed, since he could not be attacked in his well supplied and supported position in Vicksburg.  Stephen D. Lee's cavalry was employed to try and gain additional information on Sherman's movements.  The letter here is interesting also in its description of how courier lines were established.


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