'Such a course would be injurious to the service' - General's letter is for sale

Next week, bidding will open in Heritage's rare manuscripts auction, based on Americana, specifically Texana.

One of the star lots is a letter signed by Confederate a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War. Lee remains admired, despite his lot falling on the wrong side of history.

The letter is a brisk, negative reply to John Bailor. John R Baylor was a passionate Texan who, before the Civil War, was known as a vigorous Indian fighter and a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle.

Authorised to create a mounted brigade of Texans to retake the Arizona Territory Baylor, still in Richmond, wrote to General Lee, who had recently been promoted to general-in-chief of all Confederated forces, with a plan to exchange non-Texans for the famed Texas Brigade under Lee's command.

Robert E Lee Manuscript
Robert E Lee Manuscript

"Sir,
"Your letter of the 14th inst. is received. I cannot recommend the plan you propose for replacing the Texas troops in this army. It would break up organized commands in the West, and give us an unorganized body of men here of little value.

"I think such a course would be injurious to the service. If two or three good regiments could be sent over, it would be better in every respect. If there be in the regiments selected old men, or others unfit for the duties of service here, they might be put on detached duty in Texas, or transferred to some regiments that will remain in that Department.

"In this way, the exchange might be made without injury, but to take men from their present commands for the purpose of sending them here, would in my opinion, reduce our strength in the Trans-Mississippi Department, and add but little to it here."

The letter does not yet have an estimate associated with it, but Lee autographs and memorabilia can be very valuable and a good investment. For example, three letters written by Lee during the Civil War sold at auction for $61,000. Indeed the record for a Lee item is $630,000.

Heritage's auction takes place in Dallas and online on March 12.

 

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