“Early is undoubtedly returning here to enable the enemy to detach troops to go to Georgia”

I received the following from Gen. Halleck.  I am concerned that Early appears to be headed back south.  If so, he could reunite with Lee’s army and allow him to detach troops to Atlanta.

WASHINGTON, July 23, 1864-1 p.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT,

City Point, Va.:

General Wright in person arrived this morning, and most of his forces will encamp at our outer line to-night. He says it will take about two days to refit his men with shoes and clothing and to have them paid. Our cavalry yesterday followed the enemy to Strasburg. He is still moving south. General Hunter telegraphs to the President that, without the assistance of Wright, he cannot prevent Early’s return, if attempted. A man just in from Gordonsville says the railroad is repaired and the bridge across the Rapidan nearly completed. In regard to Early’s force, General Wright was assured by Union men, who saw both armies, that Early’s was much the larger. The rebels generally said to the country people that as soon as they secured their plunder they would return to Maryland and Pennsylvania for more, and that they expected to meet a force from Richmond to receive their plunder. They were probably directed by their officer to say this. The President (who has seen all the dispatches on the subject) directs me to say that you alone can judge, of the importance of sending with Sixth Corps to the Army of the Potomac, or of its operating with Hunter against Gordonsville and Charlottesville, and that you alone must decide the question. The part of the Nineteenth Corps which returns with General Wright will be sent to City Point as soon as they can be refitted.

H. W. HALLECK,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

I replied,

CITY POINT, VA., July 23, 1864-6 p.m.

Major-General HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

If Wright has returned to Washington send him immediately back here, retaining, however, the portion of the Nineteenth Corps now in Washington for further orders. Early is undoubtedly returning here to enable the enemy to detach troops to go to Georgia. Hunter’s troops must be tired. I would say, therefore, for him to take up such of the advanced positions suggested by him as in his judgment will best protect the line of the Potomac. If Wright and Hunter have started after the enemy with the view of following on the road from Charlottesville to Gordonsville let them go.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 11, p 327-8

O.R., I, xl, part 3, p 408-9

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