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    Description

    Robert E. Lee Autograph Letter Signed "RE Lee." One page, 7.75" x 6.25", "Hdqrs: Freds" [Fredericksburg]; March 26, 1863. Addressed to General Samuel Cooper, the Adjt & Inspector General. Lee writes to provide a report from Captain John Mosby. It reads in full: "On the 25th Inst Capt Jno: S Mosby attacked & routed a body of the enemy's Cavl on the Little river turnpike near Chantilly. He reports ten killed, wounded & a Lt & thirty five men, with their horses, arms & equipments captured. He sustained no loss." With docketing on verso by Cooper, forwarding the report to President Jefferson Davis and recording the appointment of Mosby to Major: "Respfy: submitted to the President/ S. Cooper March 27/63, Adj I Gen," and later in pencil, "By Direction of President Appt this offr Maj of Partizan Rangers. SC."

    Following the Battle of Fredericksburg, General Lee and his Confederate force withdrew just outside of Fredericksburg and established a winter headquarters. They remained there until the spring of 1863. John S. Mosby earned his nickname "The Gray Ghost" for his uncanny ability to elude capture and go undetected by Union forces. He and his Rangers are famous for carrying out a daring raid far inside Union lines at Fairfax County Court House on March 9, 1863, where he captured three high-ranking Union officers, including Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Stoughton. According to lore, Mosby found Stoughton in bed; upon waking, the general demanded, "Do you know who I am?" To which Mosby replied, "Do you know Mosby, general?" "Yes! Have you got the rascal?" "No, but he has got you!" Furthering his mission of destruction and mayhem against the Union, Mosby and his men moved into Northern Virginia. On March 23, 1863, Mosby, with a small band of men, attacked a unit of the Fifth New York Cavalry at Chantilly. Although he was forced to retreat when Union reinforcements arrived, Mosby was able to lure the enemy out along the river turnpike, exposing them to an ambush. As Lee reported to Cooper, Mosby was successful in capturing provisions, arms, and equipments without a single loss to his forces. The disruption of supply lines and the constant disappearance of couriers frustrated Union commanders to such a degree that Grant told Sheridan, "When any of Mosby's men are caught, hang them without trial." At the end of the war when Lee surrendered, Mosby simply disbanded his rangers, refusing to surrender formally.

    Condition: A large area near the center of the letter was torn and had a small amount of paper loss; this has been professionally repaired, only affecting a small amount of the text's legibility. Flattened folds, with minor toning and soiling. Archival material has also been added to the edges where the sides were slightly uneven. Some of the ink is slightly faded.


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