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Headquarters, December 23, 1862

General J. E. B. Stuart,

Commanding Cavalry:


General: You are desired to proceed with a portion of the cavalry across the Rappahannock, penetrate the enemy’s rear, ascertain, if possible, his position and movements, and inflict upon him such damage as circumstances will permit. I recommend that you cross the river as low down as you can without disclosing your purpose, leaving the upper fords for your return. At this inclement season, I need not suggest to you the propriety of selecting such men and horses only as can undergo the expedition, and of taking every other precaution for their comfort and safety.

I have directed 5,000 bushels of corn and 5,000 rations of hard bread to be placed at Culpeper Court-House, to your order.

Commending you, under Heaven, the guidance of your good judgment and discretion, I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,



Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1075-76

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 February 21