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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

February 2, 1863


Brig. Gen. W. E. Jones,

Commanding Valley District:

General: I have received by your letter of the 26th ultimo, and am glad to hear that you will be able to cripple the operations of the enemy. I am very desirous to expel him from the Valley, and nothing but the immediate presence of General Burnside’s large army (now commanded by General Hooker) and its threatened movements have prevented me from detaching a portion of the cavalry of this army to aid you in effecting that object.

As I think it probable that General Hooker will not be able to move for some time, should the weather and the roads not prevent, I wish now to carry this plan into effect. I wish you, therefore, to be prepared with all your available force to move at short notice against the enemy in front, while the force from this side of the Ridge will gain his rear and cut off his communications from Martinsburg, and endeavor to destroy or capture the force in Winchester. I hope, therefore, you will be able to provide beforehand subsistence and forage for your troops, and, if possible, collect enough for 2,000 men in addition, in case it should be required.

Your report of the force which has left Winchester for Romney, with other indications, goes to show that it is not the intention of Milroy to move east of the Blue Ridge, which in my former letter I thought probable.

I am glad that you keep yourself so well advised of all movements in the Valley, as well as east of the Blue Ridge, and that there is so much dissatisfaction among the troops of the enemy. You are authorized to offer kind treatment to all who come into your lines.

I think it proper to inclose to you a letter of the Hon. A. R. Boteler, which has been referred to me by the Secretary of War; not that you require to be informed how easily any community becomes dissatisfied when their interests are affected, but that you may know of the existence of that feeling and do all in your power to remove it.   

I have expressed to the Secretary my confidence in your ability and boldness, presented the obvious difficulties which you have had to encounter, and transmitted to him for his information your last report.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 25, Part 2, p. 606

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 October 29

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