Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

January 23, 1863

His Excellency President Davis:

Mr. President:

I dislike very much to trouble Your Excellency, but the want of supplies for the troops has been reported to me this morning, which, coming at this time, causes me the greatest uneasiness. Unless regular supplies can be obtained, I fear the efficiency of the army will be reduced by many thousand men, when already the army is far inferior in numbers to that of the enemy. I do not know whether the difficulty arises from the want of provisions at Richmond or from delay in its transportation to this point, but the result is that there is a scarcity of food for the men. If the provisions are in Richmond, I think, by an energetic operation of the railroad, they can be readily transported. Great delay in the running of the freight trains has been reported to me, which could be avoided by zeal and energy on the part of the agents.

It has been suggested to me that Captain Sharp, assistant quartermaster, conversant with the operations of the railroad, would make a capital superintendent. I am told he is now in North Carolina. I beg Your Excellency will cause such directions to be given as the case admits of, and that I, at least, be informed what supplies I can rely upon. The chief commissary of this army, in compliance with the directions of the Commissary-General at Richmond, has reduced the salt-meat rations to a quarter of a pound per man, and ordered one-fifth of a pound of sugar to be issued in addition; but there is no sugar here for the purpose.

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

R E Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, p. 1110

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 12