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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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

Wilmington, January 2, 1865

Lieut. Col. W. H. Taylor,

                        Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of Northern Virginia:

            Colonel: By Special Orders, No. 143, Adjutant and Inspector-General’s Office, last series, Lieut. George C. Bain is assigned as chief signal officer in this district. Thereafter, by Special Orders No. 240, Lieut. S. Wilmer is placed in the independent position of chief of operators on blockade-running vessels, and is considered independent, reporting only to the chief of the corps and the War Department. This arrangement is fraught with great danger, and I am informed several vessels have narrowly escaped destruction. Without a complete control by military commanders over all subordinates confusion and collisions are inevitable. The necessary orders had been issued by me to correct this evil and prevent disaster, but finding that they conflict with those of the War Department I have rescinded them and refer the matter, confident an arrangement so destructive to discipline, and even dangerous to our position, will not be continued. To allow vessels to run in and out of this port under the independent control of a signal officer makes the military commander, whatever his rank, subordinate and dependent without transferring the responsibility.

                        I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Braxton Bragg,




[First indorsement.]


Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

January 7, 1865

Respectfully forwarded, with the recommendation that this matter be placed under proper regulations, to insure efficiency of service, and the safety of the vessels. I am unacquainted with the operations.

RE Lee




[Second indorsement.]


Adjutant and Inspector-General’s Office,

January 14, 1865

Respectfully referred to Chief of the Signal Corps for remarks. By order of the Adjutant and Inspector General:

H. L. Clay,

Assistant Adjutant-General.




[Third indorsement.]


Signal Bureau

Richmond, January 23, 1865

            Respectfully referred to Adjutant and Inspector General.

            The closing of the port of Wilmington renders a further discussion of this question unnecessary.

Wm. N. Barker,

Captain and Chief of Signal Corps.







Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 46, Part 2, pp. 1004-1005

Transcribed by Daniel Shevalier, 2018 June 19

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