Robert E. Lee Letters and Documents

The Robert E. Lee related letters and documents in the Brockenbrough Library of The Museum of the Confederacy spans 32 years, from 1838-1870. A materials voucher, dating from 1838 and signed by Captain Robert E. Lee is the earliest piece, while the last item is a social note from April 1870, where Lee declines an offer to visit far away friends.

By far the largest portion of the papers relate to Lee’s service in the Confederate Army, 1861-1865. Of particular note is Lee’s December 13, 1862 letter to Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, praising the Almighty for the victory at Fredericksburg, and Lee’s message of May 3, 1863, to President Jefferson Davis, accounting for Confederate success at Chancellorsville. Despite the demands of official correspondence, Lee made time to send personal notes to Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, welcoming him to the Army of Northern Virginia, and wishing Brig. Gen. Robert Chilton well as he left the ANV. In March 1864 Lee took time to thank Rev. Moses Hoge for sending him a Bible, and that October found him sending a condolence note to Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton, on the death of his son. The 1864 galleries feature several original telegrams, a few written in Lee's hand—selections from a large collection of manuscript copies of telegrams concerning troop movements and logistics. One of the most treasured holdings is an Appomattox-period copy of General Orders No. 9—Lee’s Farewell Address—signed by General Lee and verified in 1896 by Lee’s former chief of staff, Walter H. Taylor. Lee continued his correspondence after the war, and the collection features touching postwar letters sent to Taylor and Lt. Gen. James Longstreet.

Brief summaries of the letters and documents are available here if you wish to know more about them before viewing the galleries.  A complete descriptive inventory and guide for the Robert E. Lee Family Collection is also available.

Images of Lee letters and documents from the Museum's Robert E. Lee Family Collection

Click on a letter to see a gallery of letters written during that year or time frame.