<br /> Lee Letter: g087

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr. President,

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the letter of certain citizens of Winchester to the Secretary of War referred to me by your Excellency.

I have given general instructions to our officers not to molest private citizens who do not take an active part against us, and was under the impression that those for whose arrest that of Messrs. Conrad & Williams was made, were officers of the pretended govt. of Va.2 I think it necessary and proper to capture all civil officers of the Federal or pretended State Govt., as it is my object to break up the latter by preventing the exercise of its functions.3 This policy may & doubtless will lead to retaliation on the part of the enemy who will naturally do all in their power to maintain the govt set up under their protection, but this we cannot avoid. I shall repeat my instructions on this subject to Gen Imboden & Gen Stuart, & endeavor to put a stop to interference with citizens except under the conditions above mentioned. I return the letter to the Secretary. Very respy

Your obt servt.

R. E. Lee Genl.

Notes:

W. J. De Renne CollectionWormsloe, Chatham County, Georgia (1914)

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 87.