Thursday, May 22, 2014

April 7, 1864 (Monday): Davis Orders Longstreet Back to Lee

Bristol Virginia Train Station (

RICHMOND, VA., April 7, 1864.
General J. LONGSTREET, Bristol, Tenn.:
    GENERAL: The President directs that you move with that part of your corps proper now in the Department of East Tennessee (that is, McLaw's and Field's divisions, and one battalion of artillery, that lately commanded by Colonel Alexander) to Charlottesville, Va. Arrived there, you will report to General R. E. Lee. The infantry should first move by rail. If the means of transportation will permit, the artillery, its carriages, harness, &c., will go in the same manner; otherwise, it will march. Should the artillery go by rail, the artillery horses will be sent the dirt road. Only such field transportation will be taken as is allowed for a campaign in the Army of Northern Virginia. Please see General Lee's special orders, indorsed. The excess in the Department of East Tennessee above that amount will be promptly put in motion for the gap in the Piedmont Railroad, between Danville, Va., and Greensborough, N. C., to assist in providing necessary subsistence supplies for both your own corps and the troops who remain with General Buckner in the Department of East Tennessee.
     Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,

     S. COOPER,
     Adjutant and Inspector General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 32, Part 3, Page 756.

Davis decided the immediate threat to Lee from Grant's army was greater than the potential for relieving him through moving into Tennessee or Kentucky.  Longstreet clearly preferred the later course of action.  However, Johnston had concerns about subsisting his army in the region, Confederate cavalry was inadequate, and Davis remained concern about the defense of Richmond.  Although Lee had expressed support for a move into Tennessee or Kentucky with a combined force consisting of Johnston's troops and Lee, he was likely not overly disappointed with an outcome which saw his forces reunited. 

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