<br /> Lee Letter: g142

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr President,

I have had the honor to receive today your letter of the 24th enclosing, me some letters said to have been written by Maj. Ward. I hope the accounts he gives of the sufferings of the citizens of Northern Neck and the South Side of the Rappahannock are exaggerated, though I fear there is much truth in his statements, and can imagine that great atrocities have been perpetrated upon our unfortunate fellow citizens. I know of no way to afford them relief, except by their own energy and strength. If they will organize themselves under proper leaders, they can so punish these marauding bands as to drive them from the country. It would be better for them to send away or destroy their property, horses, provisions &c than to retain them to invite the inroads of the enemy. I will write to Col Mosby to see if he can operate in that country, though I think it would be very hazardous to him as he would certainly be betrayed by the negroes and traders of the country, and his retreat could be easily cut off.

If officers could be selected of proper energy and boldness, it would tend greatly to the proper organization of the people, but I do not know how to select them.

The writer of the letter referred to me, seems to look for help more to persons foreign to the country than to those resided in it. I think if that is the feeling of the Community, there is no remedy for their sufferings. They must come out and defend themselves, and take the consequences of their action. Very respectfully

Your obt servt

R. E. Lee Gen


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

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 142.