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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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


Col. J. D. Imboden, Commanding &c.:


Colonel: Your letter of January 12 has been received. I am glad to hear of the improving condition of your command, and of the very satisfactory vote on the proposition to change from partisan rangers to regular troops. The 167 dissenting men will either be entitled to their discharge or allowed to join what organization they choose, though I hope they will yet consent to remain with you. The success of Captain McNeill is very gratifying, and, I hope, may be often repeated. The prisoners charged with the murder of unarmed citizens must be tried regularly by State laws, and punished according to them. The idea of capturing the municipal officers of the Peirpoint government is a very good one. It would relieve the people in the northwest very much to catch them all, and render the office of sheriff as dangerous a position as possible.

By the direction of the President, I have written to General Halleck on the subject of Milroy’s orders. He replies that these orders are unauthorized, and if on investigation he finds them authentic, he will order Milroy to change his course. I do not think retaliation upon the Union people of the northwest would help our cause in that region. I am rejoiced to hear of the state of opinion beginning to prevail in those counties since the proclamation of Mr. Lincoln. Encourage it as much as possible and continue to enlist as rapidly as possible for your command, avoiding those who have deserted from our armies and gone home. I hope you may have continued success in your efforts to redeem the northwest from the Federal dominion.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, p. 1102

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 9

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