CAMP ORANGE, 7th August, 1863.
I have not been able to thank you for your letter of the 25th ulto. I am glad to hear that my dear Fitzhugh is improving in health and that he will soon be restored, and hope that he will enjoy that comfort at least. I had seen in the papers the intention announced by the Federal Government of holding him as a hostage for the two captains selected to be shot. If it is right to shoot those men this should make no difference in their execution, but I have not thought it right to shoot them, and differ in my ideas from most of our people on the subject of retaliation. Sometimes I know it to be necessary, but it should not be resorted to, at all times, and in our case policy dictates that it should be avoided whenever possible. The opportunities as well as the desire of our enemies are so much greater than ours, that they have the advantage, and I believe it would be better in the end for us to suffer, keep right in our own eyes, the eyes of the world, and the eyes of God, and that justice would thereby be sooner done us, and our people would thus suffer less, than if we took the opposite course. My grief at the intention of the enemy, as regards Fitzhugh of course, was intensified.
SOURCE: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 278-9