• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 18, 1862


General J. B. Magruder

Commanding Army of Peninsula, Yorktown, Va.:

General: Notwithstanding the demonstrations of the enemy in your front, I see nothing to prove that he intends immediately to attempt your line. He is feeling your strength and desires to prevent your occupying other points. If strong enough, his feint may be converted into a real attack. I hope you will so maneuver as to deceive and thwart him.

The roads are hardly firm enough yet to invite his advance by land, and I discover nothing at present indicating co-operation with his column from Newport News. You can therefore only prevent his accumulating information and reserve your men. Should the Monitor appear before your batteries, it has occurred to me that by reserving your fire until she arrives near and discharging by word of command or simultaneously your heavy guns at her turret at the time when her gun was protruded for delivering fire, if the gun was struck it would be disabled, or if the turret was hit by a number of shot it would be deranged or capsized from its center.

Wrought-iron shot are being forged with a view to penetrate her armor. Some will be sent you. I do not think she will enter York River and leave the Virginia in her rear.

Directions have been given in reference to the completion of the battery at Harden’s Bluff, and General Huger’s attention called to all the points referred to in Colonel Cabell’s letter. It would be better in some respects if the battery formed part of your command, but its supporting force, &c., must be drawn from the command of General Huger. I can learn nothing of “the two Mississippi companies promised,” mentioned in your postscript to telegram of the 17th.

Very respectfully, &c.,

R E Lee

General, Commanding




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 11, Part 3, pp. 385-386

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 November 6     

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