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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

July 25, 1864


Lieut. Gen. R. S. Ewell,

Commanding, &c.:

General: Your letter of the 23d instant is received. I had understood that General Rains was in charge of the torpedoes on James River, and when Captain Bryan was sent from here I desired him to report to General Rains, or whoever might have the direction of the subject. Doctor Fretwell was brought to me by Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, of the engineers, who stated that Doctor Fretwell was acting under the chief engineer at Richmond. He applied for and received my permission to operate on James River so far as that permission was necessary, but I understood that the whole matter would be under the control and direction of General Rains, to whom he was directed to report. I did not contemplate sending independent parties. If General Rains is not in charge you had better slect some competent officer, and put the whole matter and all the persons engaged in it under his control.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

 R. E. Lee





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 40, part 3, pp. 800-801

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 July 25

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