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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Another Night on the Chickahominy, June 1864

 Jefferson Davis communicates with R.E Lee.

Richmond Va June 9, 1864
Yours of this date received. The indications are that Grant despairing of a direct attack is now seeking to embarrass you by flank movements. If our cavalry concentrated could beat that of the enemy, it would have moral as well as physical effects which are desirable. I went down to Bottom's Bridge last night, found Genl G.W.C. Lee well & he reported his preperations for defence as progressing favorably. He does not think the enemy is in force before the position. Genl Ransom has learned nothing important and did not think he could seriously disturb the enemy with the artillery now in his command.
. . .
Jefferson Davis

-The Papers of Jefferson Davis Vol. 10, October 1863- August 1864
Lynda Laswell Crist, Kenneth H. Williams, Peggy L. Dillard
LSU Press 1999

President Davis showed up in person, on the night of June 11, to confer with General Robert Ransom, Jr.

There was no individual who was more familiar with the topography of Richmond and its vicinity than Mr. Davis. He had made himself acquainted with every road and bypath, and with the streams and farms for twenty miles around. Fond of horseback exercise, he rode often and frequently late into the 'night. Sometimes till sunrise or later the next morning in going over the lines and getting personal knowledge of localities and facts which might prove useful.
I recall very vividly the last visit he made me upon such an occasion. It was on the night of June 11, 1864. I lay in bivouac a few hundred yards from Bottom's Bridge, over the Chickahominy, east of Richmond. Grant was then moving down the east bank of that stream for the purpose of making connection with Butler across the James. About two or three o'clock in the morning, I felt a light hand on my shoulder as I lay asleep with my head on my saddle, and started to rise. I recognized the voice of the President, in a low tone. 'Do not rise,' said he.'I know you have but just fallen asleep, I give you an early call. Grant will not attempt to cross here, he is planning to do so below; to-day you will be relieved here. I have to send you with Early to meet Hunter, who is devastating the valley. Your task will be hard to organize the wild cavalry which has just been defeated at Rock Fish Gap, and that good soldier, but unhappy man, "Grumble Jones," killed. Make your arrangements. You will get the order to-day.'

-General Ransom's Reminiscences of Mr. Davis in
Jefferson Davis: Ex-president of the Confederate States of America
Vol. II

Varina Davis

  Davis was very much a "hands on" military Chief-Executive . . .

 Burton Harrison told me that in these rides of inspection, his chief, mounted on the white Arab stallion, always led the staff as close to the ragged edge of danger as was humanly possible, having an apparent longing to escape from official thraldom and return to the risks of his days of soldiering.

-Recollections Grave and Gay.
Mrs. Burton Harrison
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911.

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