• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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.




Leesburg, Va., September 4, 1862


His Excellency President Davis,

Richmond, Va.:

Mr. President: I am extremely indebted to Your Excellency for your letter of the 30th ultimo, and the letter from Washington, which you inclosed to me. You will already have learned all that I have ascertained subsequently of the movements of McClellan’s army, a large part, if not the whole, of which participated in the battle of Saturday last, as I have good reason to believe.

Since my last communication to you, with reference to the movements which I propose to make with this army, I am more fully persuaded of the benefit that will result from an expedition into Maryland, and I shall proceed to make the movement at once, unless you should signify your disapprobation. The only two subjects that give me any uneasiness are my supplies of ammunition and subsistence. Of the former, I have enough for present use, and must await results before deciding to what point I will have additional supplies forwarded. Of subsistence, I am taking measures to obtain all that this region will afford; but to be able to obtain supplies to advantage in Maryland, I think it important to have the services of some one known to, and acquainted with, the resources of the country. I wish, therefore, that if ex-Governor Lowe can make it convenient, he will come to me at once, as I have already requested by telegram. As I contemplate entering a part of of [sic] the State with which Governor Lowe is well acquainted, I think he could be of much service to me in many ways. Should the results of the expedition justify it, I propose to enter Pennsylvania, unless you should deem it unadvisable upon political or other grounds.

As to the movements of the enemy, my latest intelligence shows that the army of Pope is concentrating around Washington and Alexandria in their fortifications. Citizens of this county report that Winchester has been evacuated, which is confirmed by the Baltimore Sun of this morning, containing extracts from the Washington Star of yesterday. This will still further relieve our country, and, I think, leaves the valley entirely free. They will concentrate behind the Potomac.

I have the honor to be, with high 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. 19, Part 2, pp. 591-592


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 September 2

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