<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


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

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