Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

Camp on the Opequon, near Smoketown, September 21, 1862


Hon. George W. Randolph,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:


Sir: I have the honor to inform you that Mr. Shriver, purchasing agent of the medical department, reported to me this morning, in pursuance of orders. Although there is not much for him to do at this time, I have thought best to keep him with the medical purveyor of this army for the present. I desire to call your attention to a fact reported to me by Mr. Shriver, which cannot but be injurious to the service. He states that as soon as any place is opened by the retreat of the enemy, before the agents of the Government can purchase such medical stores as it requires, numbers of speculators from Richmond and other places buy up everything, to be resold at much higher prices. Mr. Shriver states that at Fredericksburg he had knowledge of the arrival of at least 60 of this class of persons as soon as the enemy left, and that the same thing is taking place at various places on this frontier, to the injury of the army. I have directed that medical stores found in the possession of such persons within the lines of this army shall be seized and paid for at their cost price. I am informed that these speculators have carried stores, purchased under the circumstances I have stated, to Richmond. I have no doubt that a like system of speculation upon the wants of our soldiers is carried on in other necessary articles, and respectfully suggest that measures be taken to put a stop to it, and prevent persons from coming into places vacated by the enemy with such intentions.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


R E Lee

General, Commanding




Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 19, Part 2, p. 614


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 September 20