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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Near Winchester August 10th [1864]


General R. E. Lee         Petersburg


On morning of 7th Johnson’s brigade of cavalry was surprised in camp by Averill near Moorefield & routed. It was inexcusable carelessness.1

four pieces of Artillery were lost. Averill has returned to upper Potomac. Hooker is reported to have arrived at Harper’s Ferry & taken command. Movements of the enemy are taking place which induce me to change my location. I shall fight him at first opportunity

JA Early

Lt General


Forwarded per signals




1. Early is describing the battle of Moorefield, fought on 1864 August 7, involving Confederates under Bradley Johnson and Union forces under William Averell (1832-1900). Confederates outnumbered Union forces nearly 2 to 1, but the Union surprised the Confederate cavalry while they were still sleeping and overwhelmed them. A Rebel counterattack failed. In the battle, Union forces numbering 1,700 men suffered 42 casualties, while the Confederates, who numbered 3,000, suffered 488 casualties. It was the beginning of the end of the Confederacy's dominance in the Shenandoah Valley. 



Source: Scan of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1830-1870, University of Virginia Special Collections, Charlottesville

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 December 1  

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