<br /> Lee Letter: g170

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr President

Mr Stringfellow has just handed me your note enclosing one from Mr Stewart – Mr S. said upon your advice he had come to consult me upon a project he had in view, especially as to its morality. – I gave him opinion as far as I understood it & thought from what he said he had not determined to undertake it, but that it would depend upon an interview he would have with you I know so little of Mr S. that is his capacity for such an undertaking as he intimated rather than explained that when Mr Stringfellow first came to me I told him, as I have written to Genl Fitz Lee, that I could give him no advice or recommendation as to his course – He must make up his own opinion as to what he should do – Col: E. G. Lee has just called on me on the same subject, having been referred to me by Mr Stewart – As Mr S. told me, what I very well knew, that his project must be kept a profound secret, I could neither explain it to Mr Stringfellow or Col: Lee even as far as he had unfolded it to me – In fact I have not a high opinion of Mr Stewarts Discretion, & could not advise any one to join him in his enterprize. I had inferred that his companions were to be taken from Canada, until I got a note from Genl Fitz Lee, asking if he must send some half dozen of his men to Mr S – To take a party of men from here seems to me to ensure failure & I could not recommend it. I supposed he would make up his mind as to what he would do & arrange his party in his own way. – I have had nothing to do with it – I return Mr Stewarts letter With great respect

Your obt servt

R. E. Lee

P.S – Upon reperusal of your note I perceive you ask my advice – I do not think Mr Stuart by his habits life &c qualified for the undertaking he proposes – It was on this account that I could not advise others to join him. He may be an entirely different man from what I suppose him & the best fitted for the business, but I do not know it – I know nothing of the means or information at his disposal & can form no opinion as to his probable success.

R. E. Lee

Notes:

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

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 170.