Headquarters Virginia Forces,

Richmond, Va., April 24, 1861


General P. St. George Cocke:

General: Your dispatch of the 24th is at hand. I rejoice that you so fully recognize the proper policy to be pursued, and initiated it on your arrival at the scene of your operations. Continue it till compelled to change. I am endeavoring to organize the military of the State. Two 8-inch columbiads, with implements and one hundred rounds of ammunition, go to you to-day.

Captain Walker, with four rifled 6-pounders, was dispatched, by the governor, to the Potomac before my entering on duty. Direct him to report to you, and assign him to service where you deem best. Lieutenant Simms, State naval forces, has been ordered to duty on the Potomac, above Aquia Creek. He will be under your orders.

Select points of rendezvous on or near the railroads leading to Alexandria. Leesburg would be a suitable point for forces on that road; such points as you think convenient on others. Establish your headquarters as necessary. Establish camps of instruction, and instruct your troops in the use of their different arms; make the necessary arrangements for their support. No bacon is to be obtained in Virginia. Consult with merchants in Alexandria as to the feasibility of obtaining bacon from Ohio or Kentucky. If this is not practicable, beef and mutton must be your meat ration. The valley of Virginia will naturally suggest itself to you as the point from which this part of the ration must be obtained.

Let it be known that you intend no attack, but invasion of our soil will be considered an act of war.

Very few officers of experience have as yet reported; as soon as possible some will be sent to you.

In reference to the regiment to be raised by Mr. Funsten, I will state that, in conformity to an ordinance of the convention, volunteers are accepted by companies; when organized into regiments, the field officers are appointed by the governor and council.

It is not now believed that the enemy will attack you; should he do so, however, and you are not able to maintain your position, fall back on your reserves, on the route to Gordonsville.

I am, very respectfully, yours, &c.,

R. E. Lee

Major-General, Commanding





Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 2, p. 777.


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 March 9