Head Quarters, A. N. Va.,

February 9th, 1865.

His Ex’ly Wm. Smith,

Govr of Virginia,




            From a report which I have just received from Gen. Stevens, the Chief Engineer of this army, I regret to inform you, that of the five thousand laborers, requested in December last, we have received but five hundred and two. At the rate at which they are coming in, I see no prospect of securing a sufficient force for the work needed before the commencement of the campaign. Could I have got the proper amount of labor, all the work could now have been completed, and we should have felt better prepared to resist assaults of the enemy that we may daily look for. From present appearances, I do not think that the enemy will delay his operations until Spring; he is receiving reinforcements daily, and keeps his troops constantly provided with cooked rations and ammunition, as if making preparations for immediate service. Unless I can get a strong force of laborers at once, I see no prospect of having our extensive lives in the condition they should be. The troops are kept constantly employed in repairing the ravages of the winter, storms, &c cutting wood, procuring supplies, and watching the operation of the enemy. They cannot be called off from the lines of entrenchments to do the work for which I desired the negro force.

With great respect,

Your obt. servt,

R E Lee,






Source: Facsimile of original, vertical files, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall



Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 1