Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee to Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, on Clarification of the Role of His Command

19 12 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – CONFEDERATE

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 910

Headquarters Virginia Forces,
Richmond, Va., June 7, 1861.

General Joseph E. Johnston, Commanding, &c., Harper’s Ferry, Va.:

General: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 6th instant. The importance of the subject has induced me to lay it before the President, that he may be informed of your views. He places great value upon our retention of the command of the Shenandoah Valley and the position at Harper’s Ferry. The evacuation of the latter would interrupt our communication with Maryland, and injure our cause in that State. He does not think it probable that there will be an immediate attack by troops from Ohio.

General R. S. Garnett, C. S. Army, with a command of four thousand men, has been directed to Beverly, to arrest the progress of troops towards the Shenandoah Valley. Col. Angus W. McDonald has also been sent to interrupt the passage of troops over the Baltimore and Ohio Bailroad. It is hoped by these means that you will be relieved from an attack in that direction, and will have merely to resist an attack in front from Pennsylvania.

An effort will be made to send you cartridge-boxes and knapsacks for the two regiments that are without them, and also an additional supply of ammunition. Greater mobility might be given to your forces by directing their surplus baggage, trunks, valises, &c., to be returned home or sent to some place of safety. Another regiment from Georgia has been ordered to report to you, viz, Colonel Gartrell’s. It is hoped that you will be able to be timely informed of the approach of troops against you, and retire, provided they cannot be successfully opposed. You must exercise your discretion and judgment in this respect, to insure, if possible, your safety. Precise instructions cannot be given you, but, being informed of the object of the campaign, you will be able to regulate its conduct to the best advantage.

I am, general, &c.,

R. E. LEE, General, Commanding.


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