Monday, May 26, 2014

April 20, 1864 (Thursday): Longsstreet to Petersburg

General James Longstreet

Orange County, April 20, 1864.
    GENERAL: I received last night your letter of the 18th, by your courier.* I regret that your troops are coming in so slowly. Can you not expedite them? As far as I can judge by the reports of our scouts, the enemy are all prepared to advance, packed, provisioned, and equipped, and waiting only for the ground to dry. Around us it is dry now, save in spots, and we may expect them any day. Their artillery, ambulances, and pontoons are brought south of the Rappahannock, but I cannot ascertain what route they will take. Sutlers, sick, women, &c., sent to Washington. I have not heard of Burnside's expedition leaving Annapolis, and have no way of learning, save through their papers. Reports from Richmond received from deserters state that he is assembling his troops at Williamsburg. A dispatch from Elzey, received last night, reports upon information of a citizen from Williamsburg that he was landing troops at Yorktown and Gloucester Point. I think it doubtful. It certainly lacks confirmation. As to your going to Petersburg, you can best judge whether you can be spared from your command and what arrangements you can make for it. Your visit there, if not inconvenient and disadvantageous to your troops, may have the effect you anticipate, and if you think best you can go. Let me know what troops have arrived and who will command in your absence, &c. I send the authority in case you should want to use it. I have endeavored to push forward the intrenchments around Richmond as fast as possible for years. They are in pretty good condition now, except the injury sustained through the winter, and they are connected with Chaffin's Bluff. If you go to P. you must return quickly.
    Very truly,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 869.

It is not clear by Longstreet wanted to go to Petersburg.  However, he had temporary command there during the Suffolk campaign and had expressed concern about the defense of the area.  In one sense, Longstreet may have been testing Lee as to what his relationship would be on returning to the Army.  Lee wasted no time in making it clear Longstreet was required to return to the Army of NorthernVirignia.

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