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 In 1915, some of Lee’s previously unpublished letters and dispatches to Jefferson Davis and the War Department were published in Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America, 1862-65.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.
Received at Richmond, Va. July 28th. 1864.
By Telegraph from Dunn’s Hill July 28th. 64.
Hon. Secy. Of War.
Genl. Early reports that the enemy has retired across the Potomac at Williamsport burning over seventy wagons & abandoning twelve caisons. Our troops occupy Martinsburg.(1)
(Signed) R. E. Lee
Respectfully to Genl. B. Bragg
H. L. Clay
A. A. G.
Dunn’s Hill July 28/64.
R. E. Lee
Telegram to Secty. War.
Genl. Early reports enemy has retired across Potomac at Williamsport, burning over 70 wagons & abandoning 12 caisons. Our troops occupy Martinsburg.
R. B. 1522
Recd. Hd. Qrs. A. C. S. July 29/64.1
Douglas Southall Freeman’s Notes:
(1) The reports and correspondence for this campaign will be found in O. R., 37, parts 1 and 2. General Early, falling back on the valley of Virginia, employed this respite in tearing up the line of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and dispatched McCausland’s brigade on the famous raid to Chambersburg. An excellent account of the campaign is that in C. M. H., 3, chap. xxix.
- 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 Lee’s Dispatches: Unpublished Letters of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. A. to Jefferson Davis and the War Department of the Confederate States of America 1862-65.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. 287-288 ↩