The commanding general has observed with marked
satisfaction the conduct of the troops on the march, and confidently
anticipates results commensurate with the high spirit they have manifested.
No troops could have displayed greater fortitude
or better performed the arduous marches of the past ten days.
Their conduct in other respects has with few
exceptions been in keeping with their character as soldiers, and entitles
them to approbation and praise.
There have however been instances of forgetfulness
on the part of some, that they have in keeping the yet unsullied reputation
of the army, and that the duties expected of us by civilization and
Christianity are not less obligatory in the country of the enemy
than in our own.
The commanding general considers that no greater
disgrace could befall the army, and through it our whole people, than the
perpetration of the barbarous outrages upon the unarmed, and
defenceless [sic] and the wanton destruction of private property that
have marked the course of the enemy in our own country.
Such proceedings not only degrade the perpetrators
and all connected with them, but are subversive of the discipline and
efficiency of the army, and destructive of the ends of our present
It must be remembered that we make war only upon
armed men, and that we cannot take vengeance for the wrongs our people have
suffered without lowering ourselves in the eyes of all whose abhorrence has
been excited by the atrocities of our enemies, and offending against Him to
whom vengeance belongeth, without whose favor and support our efforts must
all prove in vain.
The commanding general therefore earnestly exhorts
the troops to abstain with most scrupulous care from unnecessary or wanton
injury to private property, and he enjoins upon all officers to arrest and
bring to summary punishment all who shall in any way offend against the
orders on this subject.
R. E. Lee
SOURCE: Reprinted in Clifford Dowdey, editor,
The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee (New York: Bramhall House, 1961),
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