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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



War Department, C.S.A.

Richmond, Va., June 24, 1864

General R. E. Lee:


General: I hear with regret and some apprehension the doubt expressed by you of your ability to maintain communication by the Petersburg and Weldon line. Without it there must be great difficulty in maintaining adequate supplies for the army. The single line of the Danville road at best could give only a meager supply; but it is, besides, liable constantly, on so long a line, to temporary interruptions and obstructions by the enemy. If successful in guarding the important bridges, it will be hardly possible to prevent raiding parties from reaching and tearing up the track at more accessible and unguarded points. It is certainly, therefore, of the first importance to maintain the Southern line if practicable.

Your suggestions to render the Danville road more efficient and secure shall receive full attention, and I have been concerting with the Quartermaster-General and General Kemper the best means at command to attain the desire ends. I hear, however, the reserve forces will prove an inadequate reliance for the defense of the railroad line, and that, however well they may be organized and commanded, some trained troops in addition will have to be spared for all the important points. I heard with some concern last evening that the gallant officer at Mattoax bridge did not think it possible, with his force, to defend that and the bridge on the Flat Creek likewise, and that the latter would have to be yielded, which would cause serious misfortune and interruption. If, through extraordinary exertions, these communications can be maintained for the next three weeks we shall afterward be not so absolutely dependent on them, for the wheat would, by due exertions enforced to thresh it, sustain us for some months. The sorest strait is just now, and you will excuse me for invoking your utmost attention and thought to the maintenance of our present communications.

Very truly, yours,

James A. Seddon

Secretary of War



Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 40, Part 2, pp. 684-685


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 July 14

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