Dabb’s House, Va., June 11, 1862

Brig. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart,

Commanding Cavalry


General: You are desired to make a secret movement to the rear of the enemy, now posted on Chickahominy, with a view of gaining intelligence of his operations, communications, &c.; of driving in his foraging parties, and securing such grain, cattle, &c., for ourselves as you can make arrangements to have driven in. Another object is to destroy his wagon trains, said to be daily passing from the Piping Tree road to his camp on the Chickahominy. The utmost vigilance on your part will be necessary to prevent any surprise to yourself, and the greatest caution must be practiced in keeping well in your front and flanks reliable scouts to give you information.

You will return as soon as the object of your expedition is accomplished, and you must bear constantly in mind, while endeavoring to execute the general purpose of your mission, not to hazard unnecessarily your command or to attempt what your judgment may not approve; but be content to accomplish all the good you can without feeling it necessary to obtain all that might be desired.

I recommend that you only take such men and horses as can stand the expedition, and that you take every means in your power to save and cherish those you do take. You must leave sufficient cavalry here for the service of this army, and remember that one of the chief objects of your expedition is to gain intelligence for the guidance of future operations.

Information received last evening, the points of which I sent you, lead me to infer that there is a stronger force on the enemy’s right than was previously reported. A large body of infantry, as well as cavalry, was reported near the Central Railroad. Should you find upon investigation that the enemy is moving to his right, or is so strongly posted as to render your expedition inopportune—as its success, in my opinion, depends upon its secrecy—you will, after gaining all the information you can, resume your former position.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 11, Part 3, pp. 590-591.

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 6