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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Lexington, Va., 13 Dec. 1866

Col. Jno. J. Garnett

207 Madison Avenue

Baltimore, Md.

My Dear Sir:

I regret that I am unable to give you more precise information on the points referred to in your letter of the 8th inst. than that which my memory affords. All my records, papers &c have been destroyed, and I can therefore only speak from general recollection.

You enjoyed the character of a gallant officer in the field, so far as my knowledge extends, and in consequence of the manner in which you fought your battery in the battle before Richmond in 1862, were, when opportunity offered, promoted to the command of a battalion of artillery. Owing to some complaints as to the condition of your battalion, when, in the winter of 1863-1864, measures were taken to fill the vacancies which had occurred in the corps of artillery, it was deemed proper to bring the subject before the board of officers conversed to pronounce upon the merits of certain officers, and in consequence of their report and the inability to assign you a position with due regard to the claims of others, it became necessary to relieve you from duty with the army of N. Va. I recollect no graver accusations than those I have mentioned, unless having been absent from your part on one or two occasions. I considered those stated not of a nature to affect your moral character; but such as might have proceeded from carelessness and want of attention, rather than from intentional neglect.

I can not recall to mind any imputations against your courage; but recollect the character you love for gallantry and skill.

You have it, however, in your own power, in my opinion, to refute all accusation by your future conduct. In this way you can best prove your worth and value, and establish your character upon a sure basis which can not be shaken, and insure your happiness and that of your friends.

With my sincere wishes for your success and welfare, I am very respectfully, yr. obdt. Svt.

R. E. Lee




Source: Photocopy of letterbook, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 738, pp. 4-5, Section 43, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 January 15

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