LOC, JD 8/23/1864

Richmond, Va. Augt. 23d 1864
Robert E. Lee
   Yours of yesterday recd. Have enquired of the Qr Master Genl. in relation to the question of forage, the supply of which as you are aware was mainly drawn from Southwestern Georgia, communication with which was interrupted by the enemy's recent raid on the {Virginia} Central R. R. That road is again at work, and the Qr Master Genl expects the first lot of corn from Macon since the road was broken will arrive in 4 or 5 days, and that if there be no further interruption there will be a steady succession in the arrivals from that quarter, and that the amount will be adequate for the supply of your Army. He is quite confident that the Danville and Piedmont R. R. can transport all which can be brought to their terminus. One of the difficulties of which he complains is that of getting the corn from the plantations to the Depots, and this, he says is mainly due to the withdrawal of the detailed men, Overseers and farmers from their homes for temporary Military service.
   I have had serious apprehension that the source of supply might be exhausted by the retreat of the Army of Tenn, and the consequent exposure of the Atlanta & Montgomery R. R., the possession of which by the enemy would compel that Army to draw its supplies from the same quarter which is relied on to furnish corn for the Army of Va. West of the Ala. River, there is an abundant supply of corn, large quantities of which are stored along the rail roads and navigable rivers. The reported amount now at Montgomery is 300,000 bus. & the receipts are said to be equal to the amounts sent forward from there daily. Tho' 600 wagons were put on the break on the West Point R. R. , and another train of wagons is running from Montgomery to the R. R. at Union Springs {the Mobile & Girard RR}. If Genl Hood is successful against Sherman, and we suffer no serious disaster, so as to deprive us of the supplies in Middle Ala. and east Missi., I think we shall be better able to sustain an Army hereafter than we were in the first year of the war. I directed inquiry to be made for oats in Va. & N. Ca. but have been disappointed, by learning that but a small amount can be obtained. I would seem, therefore, that for the supply of forage, we must mainly rely upon the R. R. connection with the South, by way of Danville & Greensboro. I trust the enemy will not be able to reach that road.
   I cannot say I was surprised that the enemy have been able to break the Weldon R. R., tho' I regret that they should have had time to fortify themselves as a consequence of feeble attacks made upon them at the time of their first occupation of it, which, as I understand, was during the absence of the force he had detached to the north side of the James river. Interposed, as he now is, between your Army and Weldon, I have felt increased apprehension lest an attack should be made upon the Wilmington. The recent success at Mobile might naturally encourage such an effort. I sent a telegram to Genl. Holms to urge the preparation of Reserves for immediate service, and a further increase of the force at Wilmington.
   The Northern papers clearly indicate the change of plan on the part of Genl Grant which you think suggested by his operations, and they seem to render it quite certain that his movement to the north side of James river was not intended as a feint, but adopted as an easier line under existing circumstances to approach Richmond. I will do whatever is in my power, and in the manner you request, to aid you in defeating the new plan, and I hope you will be as successful as you have heretofore been against this and other Generals of the enemy who have been sent to reduce the Capital of the Confederacy and to humble the pride of Va.
Very respectfully & truly yours
Jefferson Davis
Also in OR, Series 1, Vo. 42, Part 2, Page 1097