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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Headquarters Valley Mountain, Virginia,

September 9, 1861

General Henry A. Wise,

            Commanding Legion, Hawk’s Nest, Kanawha Valley, Virginia:

            General; I have just received your report of the 5th instant, and am very happy to again congratulate you on your success against the enemy. I am very sorry for the necessity under which General Floyd found it necessary to diminish your command, but you know how necessary it is to act upon reports touching the safety of troops, and that even rumors must not be neglected. General Floyd’s position is an exposed one and inviting an attack. He is obliged, therefore, to be cautious, and there is no way of being secure against false information. Troops are consequently obliged to be subjected to wearisome marches. But it is not done intentionally. In my opinion it would be highly prejudicial to separate your Legion from General Floyd. It might be ruinous to our cause in the valley. United, the force is not strong enough; it could effect nothing divided. Great efforts have been made to get this force in marching order. Bad weather, impassable roads, and sickness have paralyzed it for some time. There is a prospect now of being able to resume operations.

            There must be a union of strength to drive back the invaders, and I beg you will act in concert. I will forward your report to the Secretary of War, that he may be gratified at the account of the bravery of your troops and skill of your officers. But I must tell you, in candor, I cannot recommend the division of the Army of the Kanawha. We must endure everything in the cause we maintain. In pushing your movements against the enemy, I trust you will not allow your troops to hazard themselves unnecessarily or to jeopardize the accomplishment of the general operations.

            I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,


R.E. Lee

General, Commanding.


Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 5, p. 842


Transcribed by Daniel Shevalier 2018 June 13


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