Editor’s Note: Many Confederate records from 1864 were lost during Lee’s retreat from Richmond and Petersburg. As a result, many useful primary sources from the Confederate side are simply never going to be available. What might be less well known is that not all of Robert E. Lee’s known writings from the time of the Petersburg Campaign were put into the Official Records. In 1915, some of Lee’s previously unpublished letters and dispatches to Jefferson Davis and the War Department were published in Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America, 1862-65. These letters and dispatches came from the private collection of Wymberley Jones De Renne of Wormsloe, Georgia. Many of these letters and telegrams contain insight into the Siege of Petersburg, and will appear here 150 years to the day after they were written by Lee. The numbering system used in the book will also be utilized here, but some numbers may be missing because the corresponding letter or dispatch does not pertain directly to the Siege of Petersburg.
HDQRS: 6 July ’64.
As I have felt some anxiety as to the position of the 9th(1) corps from the various reports concerning it, I directed that the pickets along our lines should be directed to capture a prisoner along their front. Genl Hill has just come in to report that one from the 2nd corps was brought in to him last night. He was a New Yorker, sharp & shrewd, from whom but little could be gained. But he had on his person a diary kept by himself & brought up to the 5th Inst. It was there recorded under date of the 4th Inst, that he had with a Comrade that day passed through the 9th & 5th corps visiting certain friends &c— This would seem to be good evidence—that the 9th corps is present before Petersburg.(2)
With great respect your obt servt.
R. E. Lee
His Excy. Jeffn Davis.1
Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:
(1) See supra, No. 150.
(2) It was—about 18,000 effectives.
- Freeman, Douglas Southall (ed.). Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. A. to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America 1862-65. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1915, pp. 276-277 ↩