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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Hon. James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

Sir: I have received reports which have led me to believe that the General Order, No. 65, issued recently from the Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, is beginning to have some effect in encouraging desertions from the enemy.1 I hope steps have been taken to carry into immediate execution its provisions with regard to persons claiming its protection and benefits. It is important that these persons should get home in order to communicate with their friends in the Federal army. I think the order should be translated into German, and a considerable number of copies sent to all our armies for distribution.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 42, Part 2, p. 1200

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 August 28 


1. On 1864 August 15, Samuel Cooper, the highest ranking general in the Confederacy, issued General Orders No. 65, which stated "It having been represented to the War Department that there are numbers of foreigners entrapped by artifice and fraud into the military and naval service of the United States who would gladly withdraw from further participation in the inhuman warfare waged against a people who have never given them a pretext for hostility; and that there are many inhabitants of the United States now retained in that service against their will who are averse to aiding in the unjust war now being prosecuted against the Confederate States; and it being also known that these men are prevented from abandoning such compulsory service by the difficulty they experience in escaping therefrom; it is ordered that all such persons, coming within the lines of the Confederate armies, shall be received, protected, and supplied with means of subsistence, until such of them as desire it can be forwarded to the most convenient points of the border, where all facilities will be afforded them to return to their homes. By order: S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General." This order can be found in The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 42, Part 2, p. 529

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