Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia

January 18, 1864


Brig. Gen. A. R. Lawton,

Quartermaster-General Richmond Va.:

General: The want of shoes and blankets in this army continues to cause much suffering and to impair its efficiency. In one regiment, I am informed, there are only 50 men with serviceable shoes, and a brigade that recently went on picket was compelled to leave several hundred men in camp who were unable to bear the exposure of duty, being destitute of shoes and blankets. I have no doubt you are making every exertion in your power to supply our wants, but the condition of affairs makes me desirous to know the prospect for the future, as it is useless to bring more men into the field than we can equip for active duty. The supply by running the blockade has become so precarious that I think we should turn our attention chiefly to our own resources, and I should like to be informed how far the latter can be counted upon. I do not think that we now receive enough shoes and blankets to supply those worn out or lost in service, so that the evil is increasing upon us. I desire to aid the Department in every way in my power. I think I can do so to advantage if the material for making shoes can be furnished me. Please inform me whether you can provide the materials, and to what extent. I trust that no efforts will be spared to develop our own resources of supply, as a further dependence upon those from abroad can result in nothing but increased suffering and want.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 33, pp. 1094-1095

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2021 November 21