Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,
July 6, 1863
Lieut. Gen. R. S. Ewell,
General: It is very important that we should gather the crops of wheat, oats, and grass that are within our reach below Chaffin’s Bluff, and I think that all the assistance that we can give with men and teams consistently with military operations should be applied to that purpose. General Heth, while stationed with two of his brigades near Chaffin’s Bluff, took steps to gather these crops, which I hope will be continued by the two brigades now under General Conner. I think the other troops in your department should be employed as far as practicable in the same manner, and I need not tell you that that part of the country most exposed to the ravages of the enemy should be first attended to. I do not like the continuance of the enemy on the north side of James River and the maintenance of the pontoon bridge at Deep Bottom. I believe his force is not very large, and desire you to see if it cannot be driven away, and the bridge destroyed. I had hoped that Colonel Carter would have been able to have annoyed, if not injured, his transports on the river, and think that by the use of a four-gun battery, composed of pieces most suitable for the purpose, relieving the men and horses as occasion requires and operating in conjunction with Gary’s cavalry, he may do them great damage. The gunners might be mounted upon horses of other batteries, which by being relieved as proposed, would not be injured, if placed under a careful officer. Please see if anything can be done to drive the enemy from the north bank and interrupt his communications, &c.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. Lee,
Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 40, Part 3, p. 745
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 July 6