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Notebook - William Allan's "Memoranda of a Conversation with Robert E. Lee", 1868-02-16 - 1870-02-19, 1886-11

 File — Box: 13, Folder: 1

Scope and Contents

Between February 1868 and February 1870 Washington College professor and former Confederate Ordinance officer, William Allan, had five conversations with college president Robert E. Lee which he manually recorded in this memo book which he titled “Conversations with Gen. R. E. Lee”. Soon after each conversation, Allan described retreating to his office to record the highlights. In 1886, former Washington College Clerk of faculty and Librarian, Edward Clifford "E.C." Gordon shared with Allan, by mail, a similar manuscript reminiscence of a discussion he had with Lee in 1868 on the Sharpsburg/Antietam campaign, specifically the story of Lee’s “Lost Dispatch”. Allan transcribed Gordon’s reminiscence into his memo book – with a background note. (Gordon’s original reminiscence was then purportedly returned to him.) The memo book is accompanied by an informative 1886 letter from Gordon to Allan on the Lee conversations. There are also two letters regarding the gift of the memoranda book to Washington and Lee University in 1946 by Mrs. Louisa P. Allan, William Allan’s daughter – in – law. Subjects of the conversations include Lee's objectives and strategy at different points during the American Civil War; Lee's decision to resign from the United States Army on April 20, 1861 including his conversations with U.S. Army General Winfield Scott; and commentary, at times critical, of Federal and Confederate generals and leaders including George McClellan, D.H. Hill, James Longstreet, Jefferson Davis, Richard Ewell, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, Joseph Johnston, J.E.B. Stuart, and John-Fitz Porter. Civil War battles mentioned or discussed include Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gaines Mill and the Seven Days Battles, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the fall of the defenses at Petersburg, Va.


  • Creation: 1868-02-16 - 1870-02-19
  • Creation: 1886-11


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.


From the Collection: 24 Linear Feet

Language of Materials