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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Camp 24 July ‘64

My dear Son

I have recd your letter of the 20th Col. Carter’s report of his operations was very satisfactory as far as they went, but they are not sufficient to arrest the navigation of the river. Nothing less in my opinion will produce the result desired. I have written to Genl Ewell on the subject, & I wish if in your power you would help him to a conclusion. I sent yesterday Genl Kershaw’s division to Chafins which I can ill spare & which I fear I shall be obliged soon to wall. Genl Early telegraphed that the 6th & 19th Corps he learned on the 23rd were moving back through Leesburg towards Alexa. I presume it is for the purpose of returning to Grant, when I shall require all the troops I Can get. If any thing can therefore be done it must be done quickly. I directed Genl Kershaw to take command of the brigades under Conner1 of S.C. examining the enemy’s position at Deep bottom & see what could be done. I have not heard from him yet. The 60th Alaba has been returned to Gracie’s brigade, & B. R. Johnson’s old brigade has been sent in its place. The latter seemed much worn down & I was in hopes a little relief would bring it up. Genl Gary does not seem yet to have his Cavy well in hand & perhaps on its present duties it is impossible to give it that instruction & discipline it requires. But until he does get it in that Condition, it will never possess steadiness or reliability. Where are we to get sufficient troops to oppose Grant? He is bringing to him now the 19th Corps & will bring every man he can get. His talent & strategy consists in accumulating overwhelming numbers. I see it stated in the papers that the enemy has abandoned the Trans misspi County. Is it so? They must be very weak & unless Kirby Smith can operate to advantage in Missouri, he had better cross to this side. There must be but few troops in Canby’s dept: now that the 19th Corps has been withdrawn. I recd the package of clothes. They are very nice & suit admirably. They are so much admired that I fear I shall have many applicants for their loan frame the beaux. I saw F_ & Robt yesterday. Both well. Please send the accompg letter to your mother if you Can. I am glad to learn she is improving.

Your devoted father

R E Lee


Genl G. W. Custis Lee



Source:  Digital scan of original letter, The Papers of Robert E. Lee, 1749-1975, Rubenstein Library, Duke University

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 June 21


1. James Conner (1829-1883) was born in Charleston, South Carolina, where he received his education in law. He opened a practice in Charleston and was appointed U.S. District Attorney from 1856 to 1860. During the Civil War he commanded troops for over two years, resigning command in 1863 for a position as military court member in the 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. Conner was promoted to brigadier general in June of 1864 when he returned to field command. After the war, he resumed practicing law and was elected Attorney General of South Carolina in 1876.

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