Camp near Martinsburg, Va.

Sept. 25, 1862, 1862 [sic].

Mr. President:

I reached Staunton Saturday evening, the 20th. Inst.; but was unable to get away from there until the following day at 2 oclock, and would not have been able to get away for several days, or weeks perhaps, had not Col. Davidson made arrangements to have a certain number of stage coaches at his disposal, in one of which he gave me at a seat. I only got as far as Harrisonburg that night (Sunday), and did not arrive at Winchester until the following night about 3 oclock, or rather Tuesday morning at that hour.

At Harrisonburg, I began to hear all kinds of reports about our army; but could not get at anything reliable until I got to Winchester. There I heard of the battle of Sharpsburg and the retreat of our army from Maryland as well as the affair at Shepherdstown. Being so near our army, I concluded to put off trying to give you any information in regard to it until I reached Hd. Qrs., especially as I presumed you had been officially informed of what had taken place. The road from Harrisonburg to Winchester & from Winchester to Martinsburg was full of stragglers, a number of which were slightly wounded, but the majority without apparently anything the matter with them. I am told that the whole country is full of them, in every direction. My Father says that he has written almost every day, giving you an account of affairs, so that I can not add anything in this respect. The officers with whom I have conversed say that our troops were shaky from the day they went into Maryland, partly from the reception they met with, and partly from other causes, that if even the few (comparatively) who were present had fought with their usual spirit at both Boonsboro, and Sharpsburg, the enemy would have been badly whipped. As it was, I believe from what I have heard, that they got the worst of it.

The men of our army have been in a measure worn out by long marches and hard fighting, and are poorly clad, with many of them without shoes. If they could be newly clothed & shod, and the stragglers collected, I think they would make a fresh start & give the enemy some trouble yet. The worst of it is he can refit faster than we can. Every effort is being made to collect and stop stragglers, at Staunton, Winchester, & in the more immediate vicinity of the army, and with a good deal of success; but great numbers of them will not come in so long as any provisions are to be found in the country.

I expect to return to Richmond in the course of a few days, and may be able to state more than I can write in reference to the army. I have the honor to be, very respectfully & truly,

G. W. C. Lee

A. D. C.




Source:  The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 8, 1862, Lynda Crist, et al., eds., pp. 405-406

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 January 15