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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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


 

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Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

March 26, 1864

 

Hon. James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War, Richmond:

Sir: I have the honor to suggest that in my opinion a plan might be adopted which would sensibly lessen the issue of Confederate money without doing injustice to the rights of any one. Since I have had the command of this army large amounts have been paid to citizens for articles consumed or destroyed by the troops, or for damages of different kinds. These payments have all been made in money, although much of the property paid for was such as the owner would probably never have sold, or at any rate not for a long time. In the situation in which we are placed it is probably necessary to give every inducement we can to the people to sell us what we require, and we cannot avoid paying them in the way that they prefer. But such need not be the case with reference to such things as wood for fuel, taken by the troops. The wood they use is not generally a source of income or revenue to the owner, nor in most cases, if it were not burned by them, would it be cut for many years. It contributes to the value of the real estate, but can hardly be regarded as personalty. There is no reason why it should be paid for in money, as the owner would be equally well off if paid in bonds or certificates of indebtedness, to constitute the foundation of a claim hereafter.

I respectfully recommend that this plan be adopted, and that it be extended to all claims resting upon the same grounds. When property usually sold in market or in the ordinary business of the owner is taken or destroyed there may be some equity in his claim to be paid in current money; so in those cases where property is destroyed that must be restored, such as fences, houses, &c. But in all other cases a great deal of money might be saved by giving bonds or certificates. If this cannot be done to the whole amount of the claim, part at least might be thus settled.

As I take it to be desirable to make the issue of the new currency as slow as possible, I respectfully suggest that action in this matter be taken at once. In many cases persons have received more for wood used by troops, and which but for such use would now be standing, than was originally paid for the land itself. It is evident that if all the property of this kind is to be converted into currency the volume of it must be greatly augmented.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,

General

 

 

 

Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 3, pp. 253-254

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 May 7

      

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