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    [Civil War]. Robert E. Lee Autograph Letter Signed "R E Lee / Genl." One page, 8" x 9.75" (sight), "Orange Co [Virginia]," April 22, 1864. Writing to General Braxton Bragg, who had been "charged with the conduct of military operations of the Confederate States" two months earlier, from his headquarters at Orange Court House, Lee relays the latest intelligence from his scouts regarding Federal troop movements in the area and requests additional support for his depleted army, in full:

    "Col. Beall [Richard Lee Thurbervill Beale] 9th Va. Cavy, who has been operating on the lower Rappk. & in the northern neck of Va. reports that he has positive and certain information that no steamers or row boats of any kind are in St. Mary's river. The negro regt. recently in Westmoreland, which came from Leonardtown, has been sent to the front. Destination unknown. It is certain that a large number of vessels are going down the Bay, & his scouts think that troops are going to the Peninsula. I am profoundly grateful to the Giver of all Victory for our success in N.C. I trust it will continue & that the end may be as favourable as the beginning. I desire Hoke's brigade to be sent to me as soon as practicable. Early's division is very weak, consisting of two brigades & a part. Two of its regts. having been detached with Hoke. Col. Mercer Commd one I regret to learn is killed. Genl. [John Daniel] Imboden reports that the 6th Corps ([John] Sedgwicks old Corps) arrived in Martinsburg on the 17th. I think it erroneous. No movement has yet been made by Genl. Meade but his army is reported ready packed and equipped. The roads & ground are now in good condition."

    Five days earlier, a Confederate force of 7,000 men under the command of Brig. Gen. Robert F. Hoke, assisted by the new ram CSS Albemarle and the CSS Cotton Plant, assailed the Federal garrison at Plymouth, North Carolina. After three days, the garrison fell. Hoke was promoted to major general and he and his men moved north into Virginia due in part to Lee's summons and the threat on Richmond by the Union Army of the James. Hoke served in Virginia until December 1864, participating in several engagements such as the Battle of Cold Harbor, before being sent back to his home state of North Carolina.

    Two weeks after penning this letter, Lee met Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in battle for the first time at the Battle of the Wilderness [Virginia, May 5-7, 1864]. Grant, newly promoted commander of all Union forces (as of March 1864), was in camp with Gen. George G. Meade and the Army of the Potomac when the two adversaries met. Both armies suffered heavy casualties and Grant continued to pound at Lee for another two months. Grant's Overland Campaign was a strategic victory for the North, despite the heavy losses suffered by the Union Army, and culminated in the sieges of Petersburg and the Confederate capital at Richmond.

    Docketed on the verso. Slight smudging of ink in areas, but text remains wholly legible. Matted and framed to an overall size of 13" x 14.75".

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2013
    17th-18th Thursday-Friday
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