Harrison Co. Mississippi

Jany 31st 1878

Col W. H Taylor.

My Dear Sir,

            I wrote sometime since to Genl R. H. Chilton requesting information as to the Cheat Mt. affair: He replied that he knew nothing personally & referred me to you, as having been there with Genl Lee. Genl Lee orally gave me a full account of the movement to surprize the enemy in the valley; but time, & intervening circumstances do not allow me confidently to rely upon my memory. Were you with Genl Lee when with a portion of his command he made a night ascent of one of the Peaks? and under cover of the Fog – personally reconnoitered the Camp of the Enemy? Can you tell me what troops were with him, & why, he was not seconded in his proposition to make the attack notwithstanding the failure of the signal agreed upon for the joint attack by the three divisions of his force? Genl Lee was severely & unjustly criticized for that campaign & you may recollect, that the blame was thrown jointly upon him & myself; but he magnanimously declined to make an official report which would have exonerated himself by throwing the responsibility of the failure upon others. His oral report to me was therefore confidential & I therefore wish to obtain facts otherwise. 

            In the New York Evening Post, of the 24th Jany, I find a review of your “Four Years with Genl Lee” in which the Reviewer assumes that some remarks of yours are suggestive of blunders by me, which prevented Genl Lee from executing his own wise purposes & that you have from a delicate consideration foreborne plainly to expose those blunders, on my part. I have not yet read your book, & hope the reviewer has made a mistake in enrolling you in the large army of my assailants, which since the War has been liberally reinforced at the South.

Respectfully & truly yours

Jefferson Davis


Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 8, M2009.423

Transcribed by Caitlin Connelly, 2016 July 21