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Headquarters Department of Northern Virginia,

December 2, 1862


Hon. Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

Sir: I have the honor to represent to you that there is still a great want of shoes in the army, between 2,000 and 3,000 men being at present barefooted. Many have lost their shoes in the long marches over rough roads recently made, and the number forwarded was insufficient to meet the necessities of the troops. I am informed that there is a large number of shoes now in Richmond, in the hands of extortioners, who hold them at an extravagant price.

The quartermaster of General Jackson’s corps, in which there is the greatest want of shoes, received a proposition from a person in Richmond to furnish 1,300 pairs at $15 per pair. Whether these shoes are to be purchased at the prices demanded by the extortioners, or whether any plan can be devised for taking them at a fair price, I submit to your consideration; but I earnestly hope that some effectual means may be adopted to supply the wants of the army as speedily as possible, and avert the sufferings that threaten the troops during the approaching cold and wet weather.

I hope that the Quartermaster’s Department will avail itself of every means to supply the present necessities of the men, and to meet the wants that will naturally arise, particularly if active operations continue during the winter. I also respectfully suggest that, in purchasing shoes, care should be taken to prevent imposition, as I am informed by the officers who received those last forwarded that many of them were of a very inferior character, and unfit for service.

I am, with high respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee






Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, p. 1041

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 January 12