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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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




Richmond, Va., March 26, 1862


Maj. Gen. J. B. Magruder,

Commanding, &c., Yorktown, Va.:

General: Your telegram of to-day to the honorable Secretary of War has been referred to me for a reply.

I would remark, in commencement, that no secrecy, either as to your movements or views, can be maintained if you make them the subject of telegraphic dispatches. Experience shows that information transmitted by telegraph becomes known, and is even reported in the public journals. I would advise, therefore, that all matters important to be concealed should be made the subject of a letter. In the present instance I fear both your plans and condition will become public.

My letter of this morning will explain to you the views taken as regards the position and designs of the enemy, and measures contemplated to meet the emergency should it be discovered that his intention is to advance by way of the Peninsula.

As far as I am to judge, your strongest line of defense is that between Yorktown and Mulberry Point, which I believe had been adopted by you, and I think can best be held as long as your flanks are not turned by the passage of the enemy up either river. If you abandon that line I know no better position you could assume on the Peninsula.

I would advise that in assembling a council of war it should consist of only a few of the principal officers of your command. The disadvantages of a large council will be apparent to you.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,

General, Commanding


PS—Your telegram relative to the detailed men at “Glass Island” has been received, but it is nt understood, no one here knowing anything of “Glass Island”




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 1, Part 3, p. 399

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 20 

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