Dispatch from Robert E. Lee

O.R., Series 1, Volume 6, Part 1, Page 401, Chapter XV.

March 3, 1862

From General Robert E. Lee,

Commanding Army of Northern Virginia

To General A. R. Lawton,

Commanding District of Georgia


… It is my wish that as soon as the batteries are in fighting condition the work of protecting the guns from the enemy’s missiles be vigorously pushed on, a commencement of which has been made at Thunderbolt and the battery at Fort Jackson … I beg you will give attention to it and adopt the plan that promises the best success.

The three-gun battery located on the right bank of the river to unite with the battery on Hutchinson Island should be commenced at once … If no better arrangement can be made, the 18-pounders from Fort Jackson, replaced by the 32-pounders, could be used for this battery.

I beg now to refer to a matter that must claim your earnest and close attention - the probable route of the approach of the enemy. It looks now as if he would take the Savannah River. In that event, the batteries of Skidaway and Green Island would be out of the line of approach and if the guns can be applied to the defense of the Savannah, should be so used. They can be removed from these batteries in any event, should you determine it best to withdraw to the main. Thunderbolt Battery must then be re-enforced and some 32-pounders mounted at the battery at Beulah, reserving the heavy guns for the Savannah.

Every effort must be made to retard, if not prevent, the further progress of the enemy up the river. If he attempts to advance by batteries on the marshes or islands, he must be driven back, if possible.

It is of the utmost importance that the work at every point should be pushed forward with the utmost vigor and the closest attention given to the whole subject of the defense of the city.

I am, etc.,

R. E. LEE,

General, Commanding