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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

January 20, 1863

Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton, Commanding Cavalry Brigade:


General: From the reports of the scouts from both flanks of the enemy, he appears to be on the eve of making an advance. Sigel’s corps, which is stationed at Stafford and Dumfries, I understand, has marching orders, and the impression among the men is that they will go in the direction of Warrenton. I think it probable that he will attempt to cross the Rappahannock at Kelly’s Ford, or at Rappahannock Station. He will hardly go higher at this inclement season, I think. Infantry is said to be collecting near Richmond Ford. The infantry pickets in front of Fredericksburg have been withdrawn this evening, and columns of infantry are reported to have been seen marching up the river.

I think it probable that the enemy will cross the Upper Rappahannock, with a view to turn our left flank. Make such resistance as you can to retard or defeat him, and, should he cross with a force too large for you to encounter, concentrate your troops; hang upon his flank and rear; cut up his communications; cause him embarrassment, and report all that you can discover of his movements and designs. A scout just in from Maryland reports that the Fourth and Fifth U. S. Regular Cavalry marched through Piscataway to Liverpool Point, and then across to Aquia Creek. A thousand head of mules, sutler’s wagons, &c., are taking the same route, and it is said that a number of old mules have been sent down there for the purpose of parking. Direct your picket to be on the alert everywhere, and be in readiness for whatever may occur.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, p. 1101

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 9

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