• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

Petersburg, July 24, 1864

Lieut. Gen. R. S. Ewell,

Commanding, &c.:

General: Upon hearing that the enemy were reinforcing their troops on the north side of the James River yesterday morning General Kershaw’s division was ordered to Chaffin’s Bluff. I directed him to assume command of the troops under General Conner, reconnoiter the enemy and ascertain his position, intentions, &c. He informs me that about two brigades intrenched themselves on Tilghman’s farm last night and are still working; that it is reported that a second pontoon bridge has been constructed south of Bailey’s Run, and that the enemy is apparently making a permanent lodgment on both banks of Bailey’s Run with a view to future operations. He states that he has disposed of his troops so as to defend the Varina, New Market, and Darbytown roads. My object in sending troops there was to endeavor to dislodge the enemy, drive them across the river, and destroy the bridges, and if practicable I wish this done, and have sent a dispatch to General Kershaw to that effect. We cannot afford to sit down in front of the enemy and allow him to intrench himself wherever he pleases, and I wish you to see if you cannot break him up on the north side of the James River.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,



Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 40, Part 3, p. 796

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 July 30    


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