Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

August 4, 1863


General S. Cooper,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:

General: The movements of the enemy north of the Rappahannock, rendering it difficult for me to ascertain whether he intended to advance through Culpeper or fall down the river to Fredericksburg, determined me to unite the army south of the Rapidan. General Ewell’s corps, which after crossing the Blue Ridge had been posted in Madison, had been previously ordered to Orange Court-House.

Longstreet’s and Hill’s corps were yesterday ordered to the Rapidan. I could find no field in Culpeper offering advantages for battle, and any taken could be so easily avoided should the enemy wish to reach the south bank of the Rapidan, that I thought it advisable at once to retire to that bank. Should he advance by this route, I shall endeavor to resist him; and if he falls down to Fredericksburg, will oppose him on that line.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 29, p. 624

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 April 2