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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

December 5, 1862


Col. J. Gorgas,

Chief of Ordnance, Richmond, Va.:

Colonel: I have written to the Secretary of War, urging upon him the advantages of improving our field artillery, and have recommended, as being in my opinion the best guns for the purpose, the 12-pounder Napoleon, the 10-pounder Parrott, and the approved 3-inch rifle. I have also recommended, should metal be wanted for the Napoleon guns, that our bronze 6-pounder smooth-bores and even our bronze 12-pounder howitzers, if necessary, should be recast. This would much simplify our field ammunition, save horses, and place our batteries more nearly on an equality with those of the enemy.

By taking the guns sent back to Staunton by me when in the valley, to commence upon, Napoleons could be substituted for the 6-pounders now in service, and their metal in turn be used. In this way the batteries in service could be kept up, and their improvement gradually be made. I desire immediately, for a particular purpose, four Napoleon guns, which I request that you will send me as soon as possible. I believe that but few of those manufactured in Richmond have been issued to this army, and nearly all that it possesses have been captured from the enemy. Some heavier and longer range guns, namely, some 20 and 30 pounder Parrotts, should also be manufactured and placed on siege carriages.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,          





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, p. 1048

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 January 22

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