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 In 1915, some of Lee’s previously unpublished letters and dispatches to Jefferson Davis and the War Department were published in Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America, 1862-65.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.
Camp 10 July ’64.
I have the honour to send you a N. Y. Herald of the 8th containing some items of interest. You will see the people in the U. S. are mystified about our forces on the Potomac—The expedition will have the effect I think at least of teaching them they must keep some of their troops at home & that they cannot denude their frontier with impunity— It seems also to have put them in bad temper as well as bad humor(1) —Gold you will see has gone as high as 271 & closed at 266 3/4—(2) Provisions &c are rising— I see also they are moving the prisoners from Pt— Look out—(3)
I trust that you & your family are in good health & wish you every happiness—
Very respy your obt servt
R. E. Lee
His Excy Jeffn Davis1
Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:
(1) Early had pressed up the Valley, had crossed the Potomac and had created wild excitement in the North. The Sixth Corps, as has been noted, had already been dispatched from Grant’s army to defend the Federal capital, and the Nineteenth Corps, just arrived at Old Point from Louisiana, had also been rushed to Washington. On July 8, Early had defeated Lew Wallace at Monocacy and had moved straight on Washington. He reached the outer works on July 11, but not in time to take the city.
(2) Before the end of the month it went to 286, as previously noted.
(3) Which would have been threatened had Early not been turned back. For other reasons that prompted the removal, see O. R. series 2, 7, index heading Point Lookout.
- 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. 279-280 ↩