Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

February 8, 1864

Hon. James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:


Sir: The present decision of the Department on the provisions of the act of Congress approved April 16, 1862, section 10, seems to be that an officer or private can only be promoted for valor and skill to a vacancy in his own company. This limits the promotions for valor and skill to such an extent that it renders the law almost a dead letter. I would earnestly recommend that if this is the true interpretation of the law that it be modified so as to permit promotions on this account to any company or regiment to which the private or officer belongs. It is very important to increase the number of these promotions and to render them more certain. In the coming campaign we should use every incentive to acts of daring and skillful and brave conduct on the part of officers and men.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee,




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 4, Part 3, p. 84

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 January 11