Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

July 12, 1862


General George W. Randolph,

Secretary of War:


General: I am compelled again to call your attention to details, transfers, &c., of soldiers in this army. By Special Orders, No. 160, from the Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office, six privates are detailed for special duty—two to report to the Governor of Alabama; two privates are transferred from this army (one to forces in Georgia, the other to the Southwest), and a leave of absence is granted to an officer for thirty days. There are, no doubt, good reasons for these details, but unless the applications pass through the headquarters of this army I am unable to judge of their propriety. I have been obliged to issue an order that no application for furloughs will be considered except on a surgeon’s certificate of disability. If this order can be evaded by application to the War Department dissatisfaction will be created among those who have been refused. I know you understand the condition of the army, and believe it is only necessary to call your attention to the injurious effects of this course to have it remedied. I regard the subject as one of immediate importance to the efficiency of the army.

I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 11, Part 3, p. 640

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 October 25