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    Robert E. Lee informs Kenton Harper of his commission as colonel in the Confederate Army

    Robert E. Lee Letter Signed with One Related Document. One page, 7.75" x 9.75", "Hd Qrs Va Forces," Richmond, May 1, 1861. Kenton Harper (1801-1867) was no stranger to war, having served as captain of the 1st Virginia Infantry during the Mexican War. By the beginning of the Civil War, the aging veteran was a major general in the Virginia State Militia. After Virginia's provisional secession from the United States on April 18, 1861, the governor ordered Harper, who was given command of the 5th Virginia Infantry, to seize the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. As the Virginia forces advanced, the retreating Federal troops set fire to the place, but Harper was able to salvage 4,000 muskets and all the tools necessary for the production of rifles. Ten days later, Col. Thomas Jackson, the future "Stonewall," assumed command and began to reorganize the militia into regiments. Harper returned to his home in Staunton.

    Within days, Harper received this letter from Robert E. Lee, then major general commanding the Virginia Volunteers, stating in full: "You have been appointed Colonel of the Va Volunteers. Your commission will be forwarded by the Governor. If you accept the position you are desired to report to Colonel Jackson at Harper's Ferry for duty." Docketed on the verso. Smoothed folds show areas of toning. Two small binding holes at upper left corner. Spots of light staining near the left edge and lower right corner.

    With the letter is Harper's commission, one partially-printed page, 9.75" x 8", May 3, 1861, signed by Virginia Governor John Letcher informing Harper of his commission as "Colonel in the Active Volunteer Forces of the State." Docketed on the verso. Small binding holes at the upper left corner; scattered spots of light staining touch Letcher's signature. Folds.

    Harper accepted his commission and was given command of the 5th Virginia Infantry, one of the regiments of the Stonewall Brigade. He led his men during the First Battle of Manassas, but resigned in September 1861 after Jackson refused him leave to return home to his wife who was terminally ill. He rejoined the Confederate Army as a colonel in 1864 and led his regiment, a reservist company he had raised, in the Battles of Piedmont and Waynesboro.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2015
    12th-13th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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