LEE, Robert E. Autograph endorsement signed (''R. E. Lee''), n.d., n.p., on verso of 24 August 1864 letter from General Johnson Hagood to Col. Joseph L. Brent, also bearing AES by Gen. R. F. Hoke, and AES by Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard. 2pp., 4to, creased, light stains and foxing on verso.
LEE, Robert E. Autograph endorsement signed ("R. E. Lee"), n.d., n.p., on verso of 24 August 1864 letter from General Johnson Hagood to Col. Joseph L. Brent, also bearing AES by Gen. R. F. Hoke, and AES by Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard. 2pp., 4to, creased, light stains and foxing on verso.
BEGGING FOR RELIEF: LEE APPROVES REST FOR TROOPS "JADED & WORN" AND "BROKEN DOWN FROM HARD SERVICE" IN THE PETERSBURG SIEGE
Brigadier General Johnson Hagood paints a bleak picture of his regiment's combat readiness in the midst of the Petersburg siege. Only 358 men were fit for duty, while 423 were in the field infirmary. But even "the men 'for duty' are much jaded & worn having been in the trenches from 16 June to 20 Aug. inclusive with the exception of two days, besides having been actively engaged in the campaign for forty days previous to the 16 June. The men in the Infirmary are not sick enough to go to hospital, but have bowel affections--slow feces &c.--In fact are broken down from hard service." Hagood thought he could get the effective command "up to 600 in ten or twelve days, if permitted to take the men to some quiet camp where they can rest & have access to water for bathing &c: and that the physical condition of the men will be superior to what it was before the 21st."
The somewhat vague symptoms Hagood describes (men in infirmary but not quite ill enough to be in hospital), suggests sheer exhaustion as the root problem. No doubt many were also suffering from trench fever, the biological infection spread by lice that also plagued soldiers on the western front from 1914-1918. The request was forwarded to Division headquarters and approved by Maj. General R. F. Hoke, who passed it on to General P. G. T. Beauregard, who also approved it, forwarding it to General Lee and saying: "It is important to endeavor to increase the number of men in this brigade. The move suggested by Gl. Hagood may accomplish the desired object." Hagood's men would still be within reach of General Hoke's "call," Beauregard points out, "& could act also as a Reserve to the troops guarding the line from the Appomattox to Ashton Creek." Lee concurred with a one-word endorsement: "Approved" and his signature.