• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



White Sulphur Springs, VA., August 10, 1861

General R. E. Lee, General Commanding, &c.:


General: Yours, dated the 5th at Huntersville, post-marked the 8th at Staunton, is just received. I am pressing every means to advance as far as will meet the enemy on the Gauley turnpike and Summersville road. This morning I re-enforce General Floyd with a detachment of artillery (two 6-pounders, forty rounds), and a corps of cavalry, under Captain Corns, in addition to Colonel Davis’ force of about 500 horse. As fast as a battalion or regiment is ready, I will lead it on to wherever General Floyd may have advanced. There is no ammunition sent for my howitzer, and there is none (I mean ball and cartridge) for my 10-pounder brought from Malden. General Floyd, with two regiments of his own all my cavalry nearly, and this detachment of artillery, advances from Camp Arbuckle this morning. I will follow from day to day, as I can clothe my men and fit them for a march. The militia here are wholly unreliable, though I have ordered Colonel Beckley to pick all true men he can select, and arm and supply them with ammunition. The enemy conceal their forces very adroitly. They left 1,000 at Charleston and came up to Gauley with 3,500 and eight pieces of rifled cannon, with re-enforcements constantly coming up the river to Charleston and advanced to Gauley. From Gauley they radiate, via Fayetteville, the Gauley turnpike, and the Summersville roads, converging towards Meadow Bluff, the forces from Weston (not Huttonsville) coming down from Sutton, being now in advance, about 600, under Colonel Tyler. Thus at Gauley they have probably at present from 4,500 to 5,000, with re-enforcements coming up the Kanawha and down through Braxton in moving columns of unknown numbers. General Floyd’s command and mine will number, all told, not more than 5,500 efficient men, badly armed. By the time the enemy gets through the Gauley and Sewell Wilderness he will be found in force—8,000 at least. His advance through that Wilderness shall be effectually checked. The advance to the Gauley is not desirable at present, because we can get no provisions from Kanawha, and for 30 miles from Gauley east there are no provisions or forage to be had. My idea is to stop the enemy on or near the eastern verge of the Wilderness, and keep him there in the Wilderness by fronting him on the turnpike and by detours on the Fayetteville and Summersville roads. I repeat that we are not half armed. May I not beg you to use your influence with Adjutant-General Cooper to give us some of the arms captured at Manassas or those which are surplus from the crop of that victory? We ought not to be so neglected as not to have what our glorious victors reject. Many of our deserters are coming in, and that induces me to detain the State volunteers here for a few days. I will be active to scout for General Loring, and to give him the earliest intelligence obtained by me. But one thing, of which we are destitute, is absolutely necessary—the portable forge. I beg you to send us at least two for my command, and I suppose General Floyd needs as many. He has about 300, and I about 500, cavalry, and they are barefooted, and blacksmiths cannot be got here, nor shoes, nor iron to make them.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

Henry A. Wise,



N.B.—At 10:30 a. m., since the above was written, I have received intelligence that the enemy has moved up, 3,500 strong, to Summersville.


Source: Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 5, pp. 777-778


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 August 10




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