Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

 Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee


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On August 23d, from the camp near Orange Court House, General Leewrites to Mrs. Lee:

"...My camp is near Mr. Erasmus Taylor's house, who has been very kindin contributing to our comfort. His wife sends us every day,buttermilk, loaf bread, ice, and such vegetables as she has. I cannotget her to desist, thought I have made two special visits to thateffect. All the brides have come on a visit to the army: Mrs. Ewell,Mrs. Walker, Mrs. Heth, etc. General Meade's army is north of theRappahannock along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. He is veryquiet...."

"September 4, 1863.

"...You see I am still here. When I wrote last, the indications werethat the enemy would move against us any day; but this past week hehas been very quiet, and seems at present to continue so. I wasout looking at him yesterday, from Clarke's Mountain. He has spreadhimself over a large surface and looks immense...."

And on September 18th, from the same camp:

"...The enemy state that they have heard of a great reduction in ourforces here, and are now going to drive us back to Richmond. I trustthey will not succeed; but our hope and our refuge is in our mercifulFather in Heaven...."

On October 9th, the Army of Northern Virginia was put in motion, andwa pushed around Meade's right. Meade was gradually forced back to aposition near the old battlefield at Manassas. Although we had hardmarching, much skirmishing, and several severe fights between thecavalry of both armies, nothing permanent was accomplished, and inabout ten days we were back on our old lines. In a letter of October19, 1863, to his wife, my father says:

"...I have returned to the Rappahannock. I did not pursue with themain army beyond Bristoe or Broad Run. Our advance went as far asBull Run, where the enemy was entrenched, extending his right as faras 'Chantilly,' in the yard of which he was building a redoubt. Icould have thrown him farther back, but saw no chance of bringinghim to battle, and it would only have served to fatigue our troopsby advancing farther. I should certainly have endeavored to throwthem north of the Potomac; but thousands were barefooted, thousandswith fragments of shoes, and all without overcoats, blankets, or warmclothing. I could not bear to expose them to certain suffering andan uncertain issue...."

On October 25th, from "Camp Rappahannock," he writes again to my mother:

"...I moved yesterday into a nice pine thicket, and Perry is to-dayengaged in constructing a chimney in front of my tent, which will makeit warm and comfortable. I have no idea when Fitzhugh [his son,Major General Fitzhugh Lee] will be exchanged. The Federal authoritiesstill resist all exchanges, because they think it is to our interestto make them. Any desire expressed on our part for the exchange ofany individual magnifies the difficulty, as they at once think somegreat benefit is to result to us from it. His detention is verygrievous to me, and, besides, I want his services. I am glad you havesome socks for the army. Send them to me. They will come safely.Tell the girls [his daughters] to send all they can. I wish they couldmake some shoes, too. We have thousands of barefooted men. There isno news. General Meade, I believe, is repairing the railroad, andI presume will come on again. If I could only get some shoes andclothes for the men, I would save him the trouble...."