• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.




Valley Mountain, Va., August 21, 1861.

General Henry A. Wise,

Commanding Wise’s Legion, Camp, Sewell Mountain, Va.:


GENERAL: I have received your letter of the 18th instant, and, according to your request, have issued the accompanying special orders, of this date, placing the Twenty-second and Thirty-sixth Regiments of Virginia Volunteers subject to the assignment of the commanding general of the Army of the Kanawha, and confining your immediate command to that of the Wise Legion, as organized, by direction of the War Department.

It is proper, as well as necessary, for the commanding general to organize his troops in the field according to the exigencies of the service. It also becomes necessary to detach troops for special service from their appropriate brigades, and thus place them temporarily under other commanding officers. The rights of officers are not thereby violated, provided they are under their senior in rank, whose orders are always respected and obeyed in well-constituted armies. The necessities of war require the organization of the forces to be adapted to the service to be performed, and sometimes, brigades and separate commands have to be remodeled accordingly. This must be done in accordance with the judgment of the commanding officer. The transmission of orders to troops through their immediate commanders is in accordance with usage and propriety. Still, there are occasions when this cannot be conformed to without detriment to the service. Obedience to all legal orders is nevertheless obligatory upon all officers and soldiers.

These remarks are not supposed to be necessary for your information, but to show why I have not considered orders on the subject necessary. Feeling assured of the patriotism and zeal of the officers and men composing the Army of the Kanawha, I have never apprehended any embarrassment or interference in the execution of their respective duties believing they would make everything yield to the welfare of the republic.

I remain, with high esteem, your obedient servant,

R E Lee

General, Commanding



Source: The War of the Rebellion: Series 1, Volume 5, p. 799-800.


Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 May 31



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