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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

October 23, 1864


Honorable Secretary of War, Richmond:

Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith a copy of the communication I sent to General Grant, in accordance with the instructions received from you, and the reply of General Grant. You will perceive that the prisoners have been removed from Dutch Gap. Nothing is said as to those put at labor in retaliation for the return of recaptured slaves to their owners. I conclude they have been removed, too, as the entire camp is gone.

Very respectfully, your obedient,

R. E. Lee,



[First indorsement]

October 24, 1864

Respectfully submitted to the President for his information. It will be perceived that while General Grant manifests a disposition to avoid the necessity of enforcing the odious measures inaugurated by General Butler, he sustains his position, and clearly avers his purpose to retaliate in case any of his soldiers, whether recaptured slaves or not, are treated otherwise than as prisoners of war. The issue is therefore made in regard to recaptured slaves, though the necessity of pressing it for the present is avoided.

J. A. Seddon,

Secretary of War

[Second indorsement]

October 25, 1864

Secretary of War:

The correspondence between General Lee, C. S. Army, and General Grant, U. S. Army is returned. The result removes the necessity of placing prisoners held by us in a position corresponding to that in which the enemy had placed some of our troops held by them as prisoners of war. The issue presented is sufficiently covered by General Lee's letter, and the threat made by General Grant is in contrast with the gentlemanly bearing of General Lee. Should he execute his threat, we will of course meet it by retaliation, in kind and with full measure; but it is unnecessary to reply, the question asked by General Lee being sufficient notice.

Jefferson Davis




Source: The War of the Rebellion,Series 2, Volume 7, pp. 1029-1030

Transcribed b Colin Woodward, 2019 June 24     

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