Description

    General Robert E. Lee Orders General Joseph E. Johnston To Attack General George McClellan's Forces; Gen. Johnston is Severely Wounded in the Ensuing Battle. Historically Important Civil War-date Manuscript LS: "R E Lee" as General, 2p (front & verso), 8" x 10.75". Headquarters, Richmond, Va., no date, but late May, 1862. To General Joseph E. Johnston. In full: "I had the honor to reply yesterday to that portion of your letter of the 15th inst relating to the works and obstruction for the defence of James river. In relation to the information brought by your scouts of the position of the Federal army, and your impression that Gen. McClellan may place his troops in communication with the fleet on James river. I think there can be little doubt as to the correctness of yr views on this latter point. It is evidently now his best policy to do so, and it is fair for us to conclude that his operations in front of Yorktown, will be re-enacted in front of the obstructions on James river, unless you can prevent it. Will it be possible for you to strike him a successful blow in the passage of his army to Jas. river and before he can have the cooperation of his gun boats? Should his course to James river be below the mouth of the Chickahominy, this will be difficult. But should his march be across the Chickahominy, his passage between that river and the James may furnish you the opportunity. Although I have little doubt but that you have already considered this subject, your attention is now invited to it by direction of the President. I am endeavoring to organize and arm the Co.s of heavy arty that have been serving at the different batteries on the Peninsula & at Norfolk, and exhort to form two regiments the comps. of one are now with Gen Auger, of the other in this city. The latter with all the other co.s that can be armed will be ordered down to you as soon as possible. I am very respy yr obt svt." Throughout the winter of 1861-1862, General Joseph E. Johnston maintained his position at Manassas junction, and then withdrew just as General McClellan's superior force advanced. With McClellan again facing him, Johnston held Yorktown for a month before pulling back just before his opponent again advanced. In an effort to drive McClellan off, Johnston launched an attack south of the Chickahominy River at the end of May, 1862. On May 31, 1862, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston attempted to overwhelm two Federal corps that appeared isolated south of the Chickahominy River. The Confederate assaults succeeded in driving back the IV Corps and inflicting heavy casualties. Reinforcements arrived, and both sides fed more and more troops into the action. On May 31, Gen. Johnston was seriously wounded and was taken back to Richmond to recuperate. The Battle of Seven Pines (Union name, Fair Oaks) ended on June 1. Replacing Gen. Johnston was Gen. Robert E. Lee who withdrew the Army of Northern Virginia to Richmond. Lee’s counteroffensive in the Seven Days Battles led to Gen. McClellan’s withdrawal and the end of the campaign. It was not until 1864 that Union forces came as close to Richmond as they had been in 1862. This letter gave General Johnston his orders that resulted in the Battle of Seven Pines.

    Lightly soiled, narrow mounting strip at right edge on verso. A 2.5" vertical tear from the top left edge down through the first written line has been repaired, as has a 1.5" tear further down the page crossing four lines of text. A 3.5" tear across nine lines, arising upward from the lower tear has not been repaired. The tears do not affect the legibility or the general appearance of this historically important letter. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.




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    Auction Dates
    February, 2006
    20th-21st Monday-Tuesday
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