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Isaac M. St. John to Robert E. Lee, describing supplies during the last days of the Army of Northern Virginia, 1865-06-20

 Item — Box: 7, Folder: 5

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

This collection contains primary and secondary resources pertaining to Robert E. Lee and the Lee family. Included are correspondences from, to, and about Lee and various family members; memorabilia, pamphlets, photographs, reminiscences, miscellaneous personal papers, family history and genealogy. The collection includes materials acquired from the Lee family and items donated to and purchased and compiled by W&L University since Lee's tenure as president of Washington College from 1865 - 1870. Adminstrative papers, such as President's Reports, etc..., from Robert E. Lee's presidency of the school may be found within the W&L University Archives. Please contact W&L Special Collections for information regarding the University Archives.


  • Creation: 1865-06-20

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.


From the Collection: 24 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Brigadier General St. John writes to General Lee on June 20, 1865 with explanations of his actions and movements during the final days of the Army of Northern Virginia. Beginning in February of 1865, he explains how he "proceeded at once to organize as auxiliaries to the regular operations of the Bureau" (Bureau of Nitre and Mining). By March, St. John was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed Commissary General of Subsistence. He goes on to explain his acquisition of rations in March. The majority of the remains of these subsistence supplies were abandoned, because the Danville Richmond Railroad was taken over by the evacuation of the Confederate Government Offices. He explains that all available army wagons were filled and he left Richmond on April 3 towards Amelia Court House where he met up with the "Genl. Commanding". Rations were taken to Farmville, where the army took most of them on April 7. St. John suggested to the Quarter Master General that the rest be sent further west, to prevent capture with the enemy close by. This was not heeded due to the "extreme uncertainty" of the situation. On April 8, the cars containing the supplies were captured and used to forward Union troops to Appomattox Court House. St. John writes "After the completion of duties in connection with Genl. Johnston's Army, my official action as Commissary General ceased in Genl. Taylor's department. I was paroled May 22nd." St. John goes on to defend his actions.

Repository Details

Part of the Washington and Lee University, University Library Special Collections and Archives Repository

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington VA 24450 USA