Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

January 8, 1864


Hon. James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

Sir: I take the liberty of inclosing for your consideration a letter received from Major Richards, of the quartermaster’s department, inclosing one to him from Mr. Whitcomb, superintendent of the Virginia Central Railroad. Major Richards is the officer stationed at Gordonsville, charged with the transportation of supplies over the Central and Orange and Alexandria Railroads to this army.

When last in Richmond I had a conversation with Mr. Whitcomb on the subject of transportation over his road, and was led to believe that this year it would be attended with no difficulty. He then expected to hire 500 hands on the 1st of January, which would give him ample labor for all his purposes. It seems he has been disappointed and anticipates greater trouble in his operations than ever. The road is now barely able to furnish limited transportation. If this is diminished it will be impossible for me to keep the army in its present position, when the railroad as well as country will be exposed to ravages of the enemy. The company is able to pay the necessary labor, and it is its duty as well as interest to do so. I have thought the subject of sufficient importance to bring it to your attention.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 33, pp. 1073-1074

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2021 November 8