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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

Near Fredericksburg, November 25, 1862

His Excellency President Davis:


Mr. President: I have endeavored for some time to avoid the necessity of pursuing the course I am now about to take; but the representations of the division commanders under whom Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Drayton has served in this army have been so frequent, and those of General Longstreet so urgent, that I can no longer hesitate. General Drayton’s brigade has been a source of delay and embarrassment from the time the army left Richmond. At Manassas it could not be got into the battle. At South Mountain and Sharpsburg it broke to pieces. I do not mean to charge this as the fault of General Drayton; but, in addition, he does not seem able to keep up the organization of his brigade. The colonels of his regiments are absent, and he cannot keep his staff together; so it is reported by General Longstreet. He is a gentleman, and in his own person a soldier, but seems to lack the capacity to command. His brigade has been changed from one division to another more than once. At one time he was under General D. R. Jones, from whom I received frequent complaints. Then I placed it under General McLaws, who says it cannot operate as at present organized. General Longstreet says the service of the brigade as it now stands is lost to the army. I am compelled, therefore, to make a change, and wish to do it in the manner least disagreeable to General Drayton, for whom I feel great friendship. The brigade is composed partly of Georgia and partly of South Carolina troops. I propose to assign the regiments to brigades composed of troops from the respective States of each, and give Genera Drayton leave of absence for thirty days, at the end of which I hope some duty may be found for him in the South or Southwest, which he may be able to perform with advantage to the service.

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. 1029-1030

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 December 26          


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