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  This webpage reproduces an appendix to Volume I of
R. E. Lee: A Biography

by Douglas Southall Freeman

published by Charles Scribner's Sons,
New York and London, 1934

The text, and illustrations except as noted, are in the public domain.

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. I
Appendix I‑3

The Summons of Lee to Richmond, April, 1861

On April 17 the Virginia convention had passed an ordinance authorizing the governor to accept the service of volunteers and to invite Virginia officers in the United States army and navy to join the armed forces of Virginia, with rank at least equal to that which they held under the Union.​1 Acting on this authority, Governor Letcher on the 18th, the day of Lee's interview with Blair, sent David Funsten​2 of Alexandria, who was then in Richmond, on a mission to Lee to acquaint him with the action of the convention, and to ask whether he would accept the call of Virginia.​3 Owing to the interruption of traffic, Mr. Funsten was not able to reach Alexandria. After waiting for a day for some word from Funsten, the governor on the 19th dispatched Judge Robertson to interview Colonel Lee, General Scott, and probably some others.​4 Judge Robertson was turned back on the 19th because the Federal authorities had seized the mail boats on the Potomac,​5 but on the 20th he started again by way of Gordonsville, reached Alexandria, learned from Daingerfield that Lee had resigned,  p638  and so advised Letcher.​6 Meantime, Letcher had received Robertson's telegram. On Sunday, April 21, the governor decided to tender Lee the chief command of the Virginia forces and sent still another messenger to notify him that if he accepted, Letcher would submit his name to the convention for confirmation.7

The Author's Notes:

1 Journal of the Virginia Convention of 1861; Ordinances Adopted in Secret Session, p6.

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2 David and Oliver R. Funsten were two gallant brothers who are often confused. David, of Alexandria, became colonel of the 11th Virginia Infantry, and Oliver, of Clarke County, held the same rank with the 11th Virginia Cavalry.

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3 John Letcher to the Virginia Convention, MS., April 20, 1861, Virginia Executive Papers.

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4 MS. Journal Virginia Executive Council, April 19, 1861, Va. State Library; Letcher to Virginia Convention, MS., April 20, 1861, loc. cit. Van Horne (George H. Thomas, 30‑31) intimated that George H. Thomas was one of these, and that influences were at work to give him the supreme command in Virginia. In John Robertson to John Letcher, MS., April 20, 1861, loc. cit., there is a reference to "three others" unnamed. Thomas doubtless was one of these, but there is nothing to indicate that Thomas was considered for the post offered Lee.

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5 John Letcher to the Virginia Convention, MS., April 20, 1861, loc. cit.

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6 Robertson to Letcher, MS., April 20, 1861, loc. cit.

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7 MS. Journal Virginia Executive Council, April 21, 1861, loc. cit.

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