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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia

July 28, 1862

Sir: General D. H. Hill has been directed to proceed with picked troops to old Fort Powhatan and about fifty pieces of artillery to endeavor to cut off General McClellan’s communication by the river. I have ordered General Pendleton with five of his reserve batteries—the two 32-pounders, the long 32-pounder (Long Tom), and the 18-pounder, all on siege carriages—on the same expedition. I know of no heavier blow that could be dealt General McClellan’s army than to cut off his communication. It would oblige him to break up from his position and retire at least to the broad part of the river. But if this cannot be done, the attempt, if partially successful, will anchor him in his present position, from which he would not dare to advance, so that I can re-enforce Jackson without hazard to Richmond, and thus enable him to drive, if not destroy, the miscreant Pope.

I am particularly anxious that our newspapers may not give the enemy notice of our intentions, and have directed General Hill, in order to cover his movement, to say he was moving against Suffolk or Norfolk, so as to satisfy the curiosity of our countrymen. I leave it for you to judge whether an enigmatical paragraph in the Dispatch to that effect or entire silence may be most advisable.

I have the honor to be, &c.,

R E Lee






Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. 11, Part 2, p. 936.


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 1

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