Headquarters Battlefield

May 3, 1863—7 p.m.


Major General Early,

Commanding Division:

General: I have received your note of this date. I very much regret the possession of Fredericksburg by the enemy. I heard today of their taking the hills in rear of the city, and sent down General McLaws with two brigades of Anderson’s division and three of his own to unite with the forces under you and endeavor to drive them back. I heard this afternoon that he had halted at Tabernacle Church, on hearing that the enemy was advancing up the Plank road. I hear firing in that direction at this time, and presume that an engagement is going on. If they are attacking him there, and you could come upon their left flank, and communicate with General McLaws, I think you would demolish them. See if you cannot unite with him and, together, destroy him. With his five brigades, and you with your division and the remnant of Barksdale’s brigade, I think you ought to be more than a match for the enemy.

Respectfully, &c.,

R E Lee


P.S.—I understand General Wilcox is with him also.




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. 25, Part 2, pp. 769-770

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 May 3