Headquarters Department of Northern Virginia,

December 1, 1862


Hon. James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

Sir: In the cavalry attached to this army there are a number of men, dismounted; their horses in some instances have been killed in battle, in others they have been worn out in the service. The price of horses has become so high that the men are unable to procure remounts. Their services are consequently lost to the country, and there is small probability of recruiting the cavalry. The law requires that those men who volunteer in the cavalry, and are unable to keep themselves supplied with horses, shall do service on foot. I therefore have the honor to propose, for your consideration, a general regulation, directing that volunteers in the cavalry who are not provided with serviceable horses shall be attached to some infantry company of a regiment from the State to which they belong, and that such of the infantry as are fit for mounted service, and can provide themselves with serviceable horses, may be, upon application, transferred to the cavalry. Besides giving us more men for service in the field, it will make the cavalrymen more careful of their horses, and urge them to greater exertions in procuring remounts.

At present many of the cavalry are detached from their regiments as couriers for general and staff officers of the army. Couriers are necessary for an army serving in the field, and I had hoped to supply the places of the cavalry by a corps of guides and couriers authorized to be raised by the President under the laws of Congress, to the command of which Colonel Richardson, of Virginia, has been assigned. This corps has not yet been brought into service, and I cannot now say when it will be; but if the general officers were authorized to mount a few men of their own commands to act as couriers, and cavalry were prohibited by regulations from serving in this capacity, several hundred men would be returned to the ranks for their legitimate service. I think both of these objects can be better accomplished by a general regulation of the War Department (if it meets with your approval) than by special orders of the commanding generals, and therefore recommend that such be adopted.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1040-1041

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 January 12