Stephen D. Lee War-dated Autograph Letter Signed to Commander John Rutledge. One page, 8" x 9.75", "Commandant's Office, C.S. Dock Yard," Norfolk, VA, May 6, 1862. Commander Lee directs Lieutenant Commander John Rutledge to temporary duty. In full: "Sir: You will take command of the Steam Gun Boat 'Escambia' for temporary duty, and proceed to Richmond & report in person to the Hon. Secretary of the Navy. Respectfully, S.D. Lee, Commdr."

    On May 4th, Rutledge had taken command of the CSS Nansemond, a small wooden steamer that had just been built, and sailed from Norfolk to Richmond with other vessels of the squadron. Two days later, this order was issued, and Rutledge was directed to return to the dockyard to take command of the Escambia. Circumstances beyond his control led Confederate forces to burn the Escambia and many other ships on the stocks on May 10, 1862, immediately prior to their abandoning the naval yard. Rutledge would later take command of the ironclad CSS Palmetto State. Letter bears moderate age toning, one tiny tear at right edge, and a small section missing from the upper left corner. Very boldly penned and perfect for display. Fine condition.

    After resigning from the US Army in 1861, Lee entered the Confederate forces as a captain in the South Carolina Militia. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1862, and at the time of this letter he served as the artillery chief for Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws' division of the Army of Northern Virginia.

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    February, 2010
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