• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 28, 1862—1 a.m.

General Joseph E. Johnston,

Rapidan, Va.:


General: Your letter by Mr. Turner of the 26th has been received, together with the reports of Mr. Stoddert and General Stuart.

In consequence of the information conveyed by your telegraphic dispatch (No. 50) that the enemy was reported in force in front of your line beyond Rappahannock Bridge, coupled with his reported strength in the above-named reports, you have been desired in a dispatch just sent to use your discretion in complying with the requisition for troops, as it was feared your line could not be weakened and held, and no stronger ground is known to me between your position and Richmond than that you occupy.

Since then your dispatch (No. 55) has been received, recommending that you repair here with the largest number of troops named in my letter of the 25th, viz, 30,000, from which it is inferred that you apprehend no attack upon your line. If this inference is correct, you can commence the movement of your troops to this place. The reason the President desired in my first telegraphic dispatch that only about half the troops you might designate for re-enforcing our right flank should be sent was to have a portion in position here to throw where required, while the balance might follow if necessary; for although the enemy is menacing both Norfolk and Portsmouth, he has not yet disclosed his real design further than by advancing up the Peninsula as far as Bethel, but in what force is not yet known. You can therefore, with this understanding of the case, proceed to forward the desired re-enforcements in part or whole, as in your judgment they can be spared from the defense of your line. It is unnecessary to observe that the baggage of the detachment should be as light as possible.

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. 408

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 20


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