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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

Camp Fredericksburg, November 22, 1862—8 p.m.


General S. Cooper,

Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, VA.:


General: I have the honor to report, for the information of the President and Department, that General Burnside’s army, apparently in full force, is on the other side of the Rappahannock, opposite this place, stretching from the banks of the river toward Aquia Creek . I have learned from our scouts sent toward the Potomac, but who were unable to reach Aquia, that it is reported by citizens that the enemy were making preparations to reconstruct the wharves at that place, by means of their pontoon trains. I have not heard of a commencement being made to rebuild the railroad. Their immense wagon train is actively engaged, apparently, in provisioning their army, which, during the last three days of rain and cold, I know has been a difficult operation, and must have been attended with suffering among their troops. I have with me two brigades of Stuart’s cavalry, Pendleton’s reserve artillery, and four divisions of Longstreet’s corps. The Fifth will be here to-morrow. If the enemy attempt to cross the river I shall resist it, though the ground is favorable for him. Yesterday he summoned the corporate authorities of Fredericksburg to surrender the city by 5 p.m., and threatened, in the event of its not being delivered up, to commence to shell the town at 9 a.m. to-day.

Upon the reference of this communication to me, as I was unable to prevent the city from being cannonaded, I requested General Longstreet to inform the authorities that they might say that I would not occupy or use the city for military purposes, but that I would resist its occupation by the enemy, and recommended that the women and children be at once removed. Our wagons and ambulances have been employed all last night and to-day in accomplishing this object. This morning the authorities were informed that the bombardment would not commence at the hour threatened, but that a definite answer would be returned in a short time. I have not learned whether it has yet been received.

General Stuart reports, as the result of his reconnaissance north of the Rappahannock, that the Fauquier and Loudon Counties have been abandoned by the enemy, except the force retained at Harper’s Ferry, under Generals Slocum and Geary; that the bridges on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, from the Rappahannock to Bull Run, inclusive, have been destroyed, and the stores at Warrenton Junction and Manassas burned. Two divisions of Sigel’s corps (those of Stahel and Carl Schurz) passed through Centreville to Washington. The rest of his corps is with Burnside.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1026-1027

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 November 20


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