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Headquarters,

Orange, August 18, 1863

 

General Stuart,

Commanding, &c.:

 

General: The report of Major Mosby, of 4th instant, relative to his expeditions toward Fairfax Court-House and below, has been forwarded to the War Department. I greatly commend his boldness and good management, which is the cause of his success. I have heard that he has now with him a large number of men, yet his expeditions are undertaken with very few, and his attention seems more directed to the capture of sutlers’ wagons, &c., than to the injury of the enemy’s communications and outposts. The capture and destruction of wagon trains is advantageous, but the supply of the Federal Army is carried on by the railroad. If that should be injured, it would cause him to detach largely for its security, and thus weaken his main army. His threat of punishing citizens on the line for such attacks must be met by meting similar treatment to his soldiers when captured.

I do not know the cause for undertaking his expeditions with so few men, whether it is from policy or the difficulty of collecting them. I have heard of his men, among them officers, being in rear of this army selling captured goods, sutlers’ stores, &c. This had better be attended to by others. It has also been reported to me that many deserters from this army have joined him. Among them have been seen members of the Eighth Virginia Regiment. If this is true, I am sure it must be without the knowledge of Major Mosby, but I desire you to call his attention to this matter, to prevent his being imposed on.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,

General

 

 

 

Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 29, Part 2, p. 652

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 April 10