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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Confidential                Headquarters Army No. Va.

April 2nd 1863.


Lt. Gen’l

J. Longstreet

Comdg &C



Your letter of the 29th & 30th have been rec’d. I fear that the enemy by propagation of consistent falsehood & persistent reports of intended advance, are deceiving us; and that while acting on the defensive on the Rapk & Blackwater they may be reinforcing their armies west, with a view to offensive operations. I do not think Burnside’s corps is in N. C. but in Ky. All the informn that I get confirms the truth of this. General Burnside reachd Cincinnati on the 24th and has assumed comd of the Dept of the Ohio. His corps is intended to operate in Ky., where their papers state that a large rebel force is expected. It may be intended, however, that it shall reinforce Rosencrantz. You are, at any rate, relieved of half the force that has been opposed to you. You will therefore be strong enough to make any aggressive movemt that you may consider advisable; but, as stated in former letters, so long as the Enemy choose to remain on the defensive, & covered by their entrenchment and floating batteries I fear you can accomplish but little, except to draw provisions from the invaded districts. If you can accomplish this, it will be of positive benefit. I leave the whole matter to your good judgement.

If your troops cannot be advantageously employed in N. C. they will be very useful here; for unless Gen. Hooker soon takes the aggressive, I must endeavor to operate to draw him out.   

All the reports from our scouts and citizens north of the Rappk shew that they are impressed with the belief that he will advance against us, so soon as the weather & roads permit. Several periods in the past month were appointed by him to advance, & in every case he was prevented by Storms.

I am with great respect

Very truly Yours,

R E Lee,





Source: Photocopy of original letter, not in Lee’s handwriting, but signed by Lee, Cutts-Madison Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 March 18

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