"[YOUR TROOPS] PROVE WHAT MEN WILL SUFFER IN DEFENCE OF THEIR HOMES & RIGHTS" (CIVIL WAR.) ROBERT E. LEE. Autograph Letter Signed, "R ELee / Gen'l Comm'g," to Colonel Christopher Q. Tompkins, acknowledging the difficulties experienced by the Kanawha Valley volunteers, explaining that resources must be committed first to the most threatened units, requesting that he order any essential supplies from the quartermaster at Richmond, denying the suggestion that his men have been discriminated against with respect to the supply of arms and equipment, explaining that the regiment would not be divided but that they may be required to serve with other troops here or elsewhere, and suggesting that he appeal to General Floyd for assistance if confronted with the enemy. 3 pages, 4to, written on a folded sheet, ruled paper; horizontal folds, uncommonly good condition. "H'd Q'rs Valley Mt," 17 August 1861
". . . I am aware of the difficulties attending the organization of the Vol: regts: in Kanawha Valley. Your efforts & success are duly appreciated & confirming the confidence entertained in you, which led to your assignment to this duty. In the initiation of preparations by the State for its defence, it was hoped that the loyal citizens of the Kanawha Valley would have been able to have offered a sufficient force to have prevented the invasion of their country, with the additional aid that could be given them, & that this force could have been equipped with everything but arms & accoutrements. . . .
"The cheerfulness with which your troops have taken the field, the privations they have undergone & the efficiency with which they have acted entitle them to greater thanks from their country, which they will be sure to receive, & prove what men will suffer in defence of their homes & rights. I trust they will persevere, & in the end they will be sure to secure them. . . .
"I regret to hear of discontent existing among your troops, & that they entertain the suspicion that invidious discrimination has been exercised in favour of others. I trust upon calm reflection, & a just consideration of all the difficulties to be overcome, they will see that no cause for it exists; but that they will exhibit the same patience, the same endurance, the same confidence & the same bravery to the end of the war as they have at the beginning. . . .
"In reply to the concluding request of your letter, I need only express my regret, should your command be obliged to take the field in the destitute condition in which you describe them, & the hope that the necessities of war may not interfere with their proper equipment & refreshment. . . ."
On September 10, 1861, Union Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans engaged and overpowered the outnumbered troops of Brig. Gen. John Floyd's Army of the Kanawha, which included the 22nd Virginia Infantry under Colonel Tompkins, encamped at Carnifex Ferry. The subsequent Confederate loss of the Kanawha Valley encouraged the development of a movement among Union supporters in the western part of Virginia to form a new state, and, six weeks later, a popular referendum called for the creation of a "State of Kanawha," later renamed "West Virginia." Two years later, West Virginia was admitted to the Union.
Not in War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 1881.
Christopher Quarles Tompkins (1813-1877) served as a Confederate colonel in the 22nd Virginia Infantry; he fought at Scary Creek and Carnifex Ferry in 1861 and resigned the following year.
Provenance: Property of a descendant of Christopher Quarles Tompkins.
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