Headquarters Hampton’s Division,

January 13, 1864


Major McClellan,1

Assistant Adjutant-General:

Major: I beg to call the attention of the major-general commanding to the very heavy duty entailed on the two brigades at present in keeping up the picket-line. The pickets from Gordon’s brigade have now to travel 40 miles to their posts. Forage has to be carried to their posts, as none can be obtained near them, and the mere travel is sufficient to prevent any improvements in the horses, if not to break them down. I would respectfully recommend that my pickets may be relieved by infantry as low down the river as Ely’s Ford. A small force of infantry can guard the upper fords effectually, and the relief of my pickets would not only tend greatly to the improvement in the condtion of my horses, but would leave at my disposal a much larger force to meet any incursion of the enemy.

I beg to refer to the report of General Gordon on this subject, and I am, very respectfully,

Wade Hampton,



[First indorsement.]

Hdqrs. Cav. Corps, Army of Northern Virginia,

January 18, 1864


Respectfully forwarded, approved.

Infantry can be much more easily provided for than cavalry, and can, at the lower fords, draw their supplies from Hamilton’s Crossing, which will be no greater distance than the extreme right of our present infantry line from Orange Court-House.

J. E. B. Stuart,



[Second indorsement.]


January 22, 1864

Respectfully returned.

I very much regret that the picket of duty comes so heavy on the cavalry, and I wish I could relieve them. Small infantry pickets, as proposed, could be easily cut off. Nothing less than two brigades would be safe such a distance from support. The only relief I can suggest is to use vedettes on the river, with the reserve camp at Chancellorsville, or other more convenient point to which forage could be transported.

R. E. Lee,





1. Henry Brainerd McClellan (1840-1904) was born in Philadelphia. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts before moving to Virginia, where he worked as a teacher. After the outbreak of war, he joined the 3rd Virginia cavalry and served on the staff of Jeb Stuart. After Stuart’s death at the battle of Yellow Tavern, he served on the staff of Robert E. Lee for several months. In August of 1864, he joined the staff of Wade Hampton. In 1869, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where he opened a school for women. A first cousin of George McClellan, he was the author of the memoir I Rode with Jeb Stuart.   




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 33, pp. 1088-1089

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2021 November 21