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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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




July 23, 1864


General R. S. Ewell,

Commanding, &c.:


General: It is stated in the report of General Gary of the 22d instant that a body of cavalry landed on the 18th instant at Harrison’s Landing, passed through the country, and embarked on flats at Wyanoke Ferry on the 19th. This force is stated to be 200, but as it would take a large number of flats to convey 200 horsemen across the river, I presume it was not near the number. He also states that owing to reports of an army corps of the enemy having landed on the 21st, his dismounted men fell back to the woods without orders, failing to notify him of their position. He therefore was unable to station them the on the lookouts till after daylight on the 22d. I presume a similar report may have been made to you, but I have thought it proper to call your attention to the matter to see if arrangements cannot be made to prevent their recurrence. A small body of cavalry ought not to be allowed to traverse the country with impunity, nor should men on duty leave their posts on bare reports without necessity or reporting the fact. Conduct of this sort may lead to grave disasters. Lieutenant Welch, commanding General Gary’s scouts on the river, reports that he has selected a good position for observing the vessels at City Point, but that he has not a good glass? Can a better one be provided for the purpose? General Conner reports on the 22d that the nature of the ground at Bottom’s Bridge conceals from view enemy’s troops near the river, and to hold the river road near Tilghman’s an observatory permanently would require a large force, which would be subjected to constant shelling. Cannot an observatory be erected at some point secure from being shelled, so as to watch the pontoon bridge of enemy and adjacent ground? In a report of General Conner this morning he states that the enemy has laid another bridge near the former and out of sight of the observatory. I need not inform you how necessary it is at this time to receive accurate information of the enemy’s movements. He is operating on a long line and threatening three points of vital importance to us—Richmond, Bermuda Neck, and Petersburg. He enjoys great facilities for moving his troops and concealing it. Our force, to be successful, must be thrown against the real point of attack. Every effort should be made not to be deceived.

Very truly yours,

R E Lee





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 40, Part 3, pp. 794-795

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 July 16               

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