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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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




Richmond, Va., March 25, 1862


General Joseph E. Johnston,

Commanding Army in Northern Virginia:

General: The President desires to know with what force you could march to re-enforce the Army of the Peninsula or Norfolk, which are now threatened by the enemy assembling in great numbers, according to the reports received, at Old Point Comfort. It seems probable that the troops concentrating there are drawn from the army of General McClellan. Whether it is intended to move against Norfolk or Richmond there is yet nothing to determine. But from the accounts received nothing less than 20,000 or 30,000 men will be sufficient with the troops already in position, successfully to oppose them. It will be necessary, therefore, for you to organize a part of your troops to hold your present line, and to prepare the remainder to move to this city, to be thrown on the point attacked.

The object of the President is to prepare you for a movement which now appears imperative, as no troops are available but those of your army to meet the enemy concentrating on the coast.

As soon as something more definite can be learned you will be informed, and should you receive a dispatch saying “Move at once,” you will understand that you are to repair immediately to this city, where you will be informed to what point you are to direct your course. Such arrangements as you deem necessary for the transportation and subsistence of your troops on their march you are desired to make. Every facility that can be given here to the same end will be prepared.

This is sent by a special messenger, to insure security and dispatch.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,

General, Commanding




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 11, Part 3, p. 397

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 February 15




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