Near Fredericktown, Md., September 9, 1862


His Excellency President Davis:


Mr. President: I have just received your letter of the 7th instant, from Rapidan, informing me of your intention to come on to Leesburg. While I should feel the greatest satisfaction in having an interview with you, and consulting upon all subjects of interest, I cannot but feel great uneasiness for your safety should you undertake to reach me. You will not only encounter the hardships and fatigues of a very disagreeable journey, but also run the risk of capture by the enemy. I send my aide-de-camp, Major [W. H.] Taylor, back to explain to you the difficulties and dangers of the journey, which I cannot recommend you to undertake.

I am endeavoring to break up the line through Leesburg, which is no longer safe, and turn everything off from Culpeper Court-House toward Winchester. I shall move in the direction I originally intended, toward Hagerstown and Chambersburg, for the purpose of opening our line of communication through the valley, in order to procure sufficient supplies of flour. I shall not move until to-morrow or, perhaps, next day, but when I do move the line of communication in this direction will be entirely broken up. I must, therefore, advise that you do not make an attempt that I cannot but regard as hazardous.

I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,



Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 19, Part 2, pp. 602-603


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 September 12