Monday, June 2, 2014

April 30, 1864 (Monday): Anticipating Grant

General Henry W.Wessells

FORT MONROE, VA., April 30, 1864.
Lieutenant- General GRANT:
    The following, from a letter of General Wessells, at Plymouth, on the 16th, is forwarded for your information:
     Longstreet's army is in motion for Richmond. Pemberton and many officers passed up to Richmond last week, and talked freely of the opening campaign. It is Lee's intention to anticipate General Grant's combinations; take initiative.

    B. F. BUTLER,
    Major- General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol.  33, Part 1, Page 1029.

The one part of this dispatch which was accurate was that it was Lee's intention to anticipate Grant's movements and take the initiative.  Ironically, the more outnumbered Lee was by Grant the more important it was not to surrender the initiative.  To fall back to Richmond was to either ultimately require the loss of the capital when, inevitably, the army withdrew or to become pinned down in or near the defenses of Richmond.  The report was not entirely accurate, in that Longstreet was closing up to Lee's position near Culpeper. 

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