Friday, December 27, 2013

General Robert E. Lee to Major General John Bell Hood, May 21, 1863

Camp Fredericksburg, 21st May, 1863.

MY DEAR GENERAL: — Upon my return from Richmond, I found your letter of the 13th awaiting me. Although separated from me, I have always had you in my eye and thoughts. I wished for you much in the last battle, and believe had I had the whole Army with me, General Hooker would have been demolished. But God ordered otherwise.

I grieve much over the death of General Jackson — for our sakes, not for his. He is happy and at peace. But his spirit lives with us, and I hope it will raise up many Jacksons in our ranks. We must all do more than formerly. We must endeavor to follow the unselfish, devoted, intrepid course he pursued, and we shall be strengthened rather than weakened by his loss. I rely much upon you. You must so inspire and lead your brave division, as that it may accomplish the work of a corps. I agree with you as to the size of the corps of this Army. They are too large for the country we have to operate in for one man to handle. I saw it all last campaign. I have endeavored to remedy it — this in a measure at least — but do not know whether I shall succeed. I am much obliged to you always for your opinion. I know you give it from pure motives. If I am not always convinced, you must bear with me. I agree with you also in believing that our Army would be invincible if it could be properly organized and officered. There never were such men in an Army before. They will go anywhere and do anything if properly led. But there is the difficulty — proper commanders — where can they be obtained? But they are improving — constantly improving. Rome was not built in a day, nor can we expect miracles in our favor.

Wishing you every health and happiness, and committing you to the care of a kind Providence,

I am now and always your friend,

R. E. LEE.

General J. B. HOOD,
Commanding Division.

SOURCES: John Bell Hood, Advance and Retreat, p. 52-3; John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 247; Clifford Dowdey and Louis H. Manarin, Editors,The Wartime Papers of R. L. Lee, p. 490.

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