Headqrs. Army of Northern Virginia, January 10, 1863

Col. J. D. Imboden, Commanding, &c.:


Colonel: I thank you for your letter of the 2d instant, received yesterday. I am much gratified to hear of the gallant conduct of Captains McNeill and Imboden, and hope they will continue to harass the enemy as much as possible. I am anxious for you to proceed, as rapidly as possible, in the organization and increase of your command, so that you may bring a strong brigade into the field at an early period. I wish the enemy driven out of the valley entirely, both the South Branch and the Kanawha. Please report to me the state of your command, your effective force in infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and your prospects of increasing it. With regard to the orders of Milroy, you must endeavor to repress his cruelties as much as possible. I will recommend to the Secretary of War that prisoners taken from his command be not exchanged, but held as hostages for the protection of our citizens.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee




1. Lee is referring to the harsh policies of Robert Huston Milroy (1816-189) in the Shenandoah Valley. Milroy was a Union general from Indiana. He occupied Winchester in 1862, and in late December, in response to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Union’s increasing hard war strategy, sought to drive occupants from the city and free slaves. 


Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1085-1086

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 September 18