<br /> Lee Letter: g211

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Jefferson Davis

Mr President

I have had the honour to receive your despatch of today. Unless Butler is promoted no one can be promoted to his Brigade – I believe Dunovatit gives the fairest promise among the S.C. Colonels & Hampton recommends him – I think too he is the Senior Col: in the Brigade – I have not heard of his return to duty & it is not my habit to recommend officers for promotion when absent from their Commands – What our officers most lack is the pains & labour of incubating discipline. It is a painful tedious process, & is not apt to win popular favour. Many officers have too many selfish views to promote to induce them to undertake the task of instructing & disciplining their Commands. To succeed it is necessary to set the example, & this necessarily confines them to their duties, their camp & mess, which is disagreable & deprives them of pleasant visits, dinners &c. If I had have known Genl George Steuart would have been so soon available I would have proposed him for the Command of the Cavalry in Western Virga. I believe it would be a good plan now to give him Command of two of the brigades – He did remarkably well in the Infy. Had the best Camp, more order among his trains &c than any brigade in the army unless it might have been Mahones – He is brave too & always obeys orders – How he would administer when alone is the only question – I have to get a Brigr for [name illegible] brigade & I do not know where to find one – I was at Howletts today & witnessed the firing at the enemys camp at Dutch Gap. The enemy was kept very close & under cover, but did not move his camp – The practice on our side was very good. The battery at Howletts kept the two upper batteries of the enemy engaged – The lowest battery was too distant to reach, but it divided its attention between our gunboats & Howletts – Our gunboats planted some excellent shots in the enemys camp – I could discover no canal. I saw their customary lines of entrenchments in front & rear of their camp, entering across the neck, with rifle pits in advance of each line for their pickets – But I saw nothing approaching a canal. Still deserters & prisoners so report – With great respect

your obt sevt

R E Lee

Notes:

Robert Edward Lee PapersDuke University Library

Printed in Douglas Southall Freeman, Lee’s Dispatches, Dispatch No. 211.