Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Smith, Gustavus W. (1821-1896) to Robert E. Lee

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also request a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00648 Author/Creator: Smith, Gustavus W. (1821-1896) Place Written: Richmond, Virginia Type: Letter signed Date: 6 October 1862 Pagination: 2 p. ; 27.5 x 18.5 cm.

Summary of Content: Confederate Major General Smith discusses troop activities and movements, including an attack on Union gunboats. Also discusses a requisition for "negroes to work upon the fortifications under recent act of the Legislature - When we get negroes the works will be finished rapidly to completion." Refers to the request of North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance "for more protection for the eastern portion of the state." Writes "The yellow fever at Wilmington will prevent the enemy from attempting anything in that quarter for some time to come - and during the epidemic the Troops had better be removed except from the fortification." Followed by a portion of a 15 October 1862 letter to George W. Randolph, as this was apparently a retained copy from Smith's notebook. Written from Head Quarters.

Full Transcript: [draft]
[excerpt]
[1]…The firing alluded to it seems was an attack made by our picket regiment upon their gunboats. In which it is reported we drove them off with very ...small loss in our side. …

[excerpt]
[1]… Requisitions are being made out by Col Gillman for negroes to work upon the fortifications under [struck: the] recent act of the Legislature - When we get the negroes the works will be [2] pushed rapidly to completion - I have also directed workm[strikeout][inserted: e]n to be placed upon the bridge of the Fredericksburg R.R.…

[excerpt]
[2]…The Yellow fever at Wilmington will prevent the enemy from attempting anything in that quarter for some time to come - and during the epidemic the Troops had better be removed except from the fortification
Governor Vance of North Carolina is here asking for more protection for the eastern portion of the state -
See More

People: Smith, Gustavus Woodson, 1822-1896
Lee, Robert E., 1807-1870

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: African American HistoryDiseaseCivil WarMilitary HistoryConfederate General or LeaderConfederate States of AmericaBattleUnion ForcesNavyFortificationContrabandsSlaveryGovernment and CivicsLawYellow FeverHealth and Medical

Sub Era: The American Civil War

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources