Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter IX: A Private Citizen: Compares notes with the Union General Hunter

The Document

In this connection I quote the Rev. J. Wm. Jones in his "Personal Reminiscences of General Robert E. Lee":

"Not long after the close of the war, General Lee received a letter from General David Hunter, of the Federal Army, in which he begged information on two points:

"1. His (Hunter's) campaign in the summer of 1864 was undertaken on information received at the War Department in Washington that General Lee was about to detach forty thousand picked troops to send General Johnston. Did not his (Hunter's) movements prevent this, and relieve Sherman to that extent?

"2. When he (Hunter) found it necessary to retreat from before Lynchburg, did not he adopt the most feasible line of retreat?

"General Lee wrote a very courteous reply, in which he said:

"'The information upon which your campaign was undertaken was erroneous. I had NO TROOPS to spare General Johnston and no intention of sending him any--CERTAINLY NOT FORTY THOUSAND, AS THAT WOULD HAVE TAKEN ABOUT ALL I HAD.

"'As to the second point--I would say that I am not advised as to the motives which induced you to adopt the line of retreat which you took, and am not, perhaps competent to judge of the question, BUT I CERTAINLY EXPECTED YOU TO RETREAT BY WAY OF THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY [the emphasis is Dr. Jones's], and was gratified at the time that you preferred the route through the mountains of the Ohio--leaving the valley open for General Early's advance into Maryland.'"

Before leaving Richmond, my father wrote the following letter to Colonel Ordway, then Provost Marshal:

"Richmond, Virginia, June 21, 1865.

"Lt.-Col. Albert Ordway, Provost Marshal, Department of Virginia.

"Colonel: I propose establishing my family next week in Cumberland County, Virginia, near Cartersville, on the James River canal. On announcing my intention to General Patrick, when he was on duty in Richmond, he stated that no passport for the purpose was necessary. Should there have been any change in the orders of the Department rendering passports necessary, I request that I may be furnished with them. My son, G. W. Custis Lee, a paroled prisoner with myself, will accompany me. Very respectfully your obedient servant,

"R. E. Lee."

Next: Longs for a country home, Finds one at "Derwent," near Cartersville

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How to cite this article

Lee, Robert E. jr., The Recollections & Letters of Robert E. Lee,, webpage created by Rickard, J (8 June 2006),

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