Headquarters C. S. Armies,
March 27, 1865
Hon. Secretary of War,
Sir: I have been awaiting the receipt of the orders from the Department for raising and organizing the colored troops before taking any action in the matter. I understand that orders have been published in the newspapers but have not seen them. In the meantime I have been informed that a number of recruits may be obtained in Petersburg, if suitable persons be employed to get them to enlist. Captain Cameron, assistant adjutant-general, Weisiger’s brigade, and Private Stephen H. Britton, Second Company Washington Artillery, both citizens of Petersburg, have been recommended as the best persons to be employed for this purpose. Captain Cameron is willing to do all he can to raise the troops, though he does not desire a commission. I have not heard from Britton. As time is important I have ordered Captain Cameron to be assigned to that duty, and will also order Britton if he is not averse to it. I also propose to send Lieutenant Alexander, of the Virginia battalion, now acting as provost guard, to his residence in Mecklenburg County on the same duty. He has good reason to believe he can raise some men. I respectfully ask that these measures be approved by the Department, if not contrary to any of its regulations. I think it will be nearly useless, in the present temper of our people, to send recruiting officers to districts where they are not known, and where they have no personal influence or connections favorable to the new measure. The enemies of the system will do all they can to thwart their efforts, and will deprive their appeals to the people in a great measure of effect by representing that the officers are only seeking to raise commands for themselves. As far as practicable, men should be selected for this business who are known in the communities to which they are sent and have influential connections.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. Lee,
Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records fo the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Volume 46, Part 3, pp. 1356-1357
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 September 23