Brig. Gen. Philip St. George Cocke to Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee on Status and Needs

18 11 2020



O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 786-787

Headquarters Potomac Department,
Culpeper Court-House, Fa., April 28, 1861—12.30 p. m.

General Lee, Commander-in-Chief, Richmond, Va.:

Having completed the requisite arrangements at Alexandria, and succeeded in informing myself of the actual state of things at that outpost of my command, in sight of the enemy, I proceeded this morning, by the 7 o’clock train, accompanied by the assistant adjutant-general, my aide, and secretary, towards this place, which I reached at 10 a. m., and where I propose, for some time to come, to establish my headquarters. I left all quiet and composed at Alexandria, where by my presence, during the suddenly augmented flow of Northern vandalism through Annapolis, I was so fortunate as to avert alarm and panic.

Intelligence first reached me, ever finding a solution through my knowledge of and confident faith in the existing status, not immediately, in my opinion, threatened to be overthrown, so long as there is nothing more than a mere persistence in a course on the part of the enemy, long ago initiated, and even now only intensified and strengthened; thus solving, as I did, the thousand sensations, rumors, and accounts that poured in upon me during my whole stay in Alexandria.

I have been enabled to infuse the same confidence into the minds of the leading citizens of the place, to have secured their confidence, and to have left them for the present tranquil and firm; whilst at the same time I have provided to organize the few troops in that extreme outpost; to provide for strengthening the same for the present up to about one thousand men; to establishing my communications in every direction, and thence to these headquarters; to throw myself in connection with various persons and sources of information at Alexandria; to inform myself as correctly as possible as to the number, efficiency, movements, and animus of the enemy, and by every means in my power to urge on such an organization, drilling, and discipline of the troops of that post as would best prepare them for the trying position they occupy.

In coming here, sir, I find myself, as upon my first arrival in Alexandria, “with naked hands.”

Colonel Jones [*], fortunately assigned to me as assistant adjutant-general, is the first Army officer to report for duty within my command. He promptly arrived in Alexandria last evening, and is with me here to-day. He will know what to do with his department, but I want an assistant quartermaster-general, a chief of the medical department, an ordnance officer, a chief of military engineering of talent. I had heretofore insinuated a preference in this last connection. I want arms. I am expecting from fifteen hundred to two thousand guns from Harper’s Ferry, when they shall be able to fit them up from the wreck of that place. I want a chief of artillery ; I want powder; two or three batteries of field artillery (6-pounders), with caissons, ammunition, complete for service, &c.

My part now will be to rally the men of the fine country around me, to establish camps of instruction, to wit: Leesburg, Warrenton, headquarters, and at or near Dangerfield, in supporting distance of Alexandria. I want camp equipage for the various encampments above indicated.

In regard to Harper’s Ferry, that most important strategic point on my left, and in connection with which I have not yet been able to place myself in a satisfactory attitude and connection owing to the lack of telegraph communication; of continued rail; for want of full understanding with the chief of command at that position; for want of the requisite and reliable information of all the various circumstances and conditions affecting the present military state of things at that post.

I have, since my arrival here, indicated the plan of sending Assistant Adjutant-General Jones, by rail, to-morrow, to that point, to obtain all such information, and to report to me accurately and fully the present condition of things there with as little delay as possible.

Brigadier- General, Potomac Department, Commanding.

[*David R. Jones]



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