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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Hd. Qrs. Forces for Local Defense

Intermediate Line

Obsborne Turnpike

May 17, 1864.


Col. Jno. B. Sale

Mil. Secretary &c,


I have just recd a telegram from the Comdg. Genl as follows;

“In the absence of Genl. Ransom,

“take command of the lines from

“your left. Include Chaffins Farm,

“The cavalry along this front is under your charge, & keep me advised.”

“(sgd.) Braxton Bragg”


I deem it my duty to inform the Comdg. Genl. that I do not think I have any higher rank than Colonel (as A. D. C. to the President) having never accepted the “temporary rank” of Brig. Genl. offered me, nor taken the prescribed oath, nor drawn the pay and emoluments of a Brig. Genl. I have signed myself Brig. Genl. in matters pertaining to the “Forces for Local Defense” merely for the name of the thing & always considering the title one of courtesy; and I have only been willing to bear it because I thought it would give more weight to my authority & more dignity to the Local Defense Forces. For these reasons, I do not think I have a right to the command designated by Genl. Bragg, & deem it my duty so to inform him. I am very willing to perform the duty mentioned by the Comdg Genl. to the best of my ability; but do not believe I have the right to give orders to Genl. Hunton or to others above the rank of Colonel. I suppose I am one of the oldest Colonels in the service.

Please advise me, at your earliest convenience, of what I ought to do under the circumstances.

I have the honor to be

very respectfully

Yr. Obdt. Svt.

G. W. C. Lee

Brig. Genl.




Source: Digital scan of original letter, George Francis Markham Collection, Mss1 M3145 a 22, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 January 2

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