Robert Lee

While Stonewall Jackson hovers between life and death, General Robert E. Lee, the day after the Confederate Army’s “glorious victory” at Chancellorsville, congratulates his soldiers for their “heroic conduct,” but laments “the absence for a time of one to whose bravery, energy, and skill they are so much indebted for success” – General Stonewall Jackson had been shot on May 2nd; he was to die three days after this was issued, the final draft of Lee’s “General Orders No. 59” – Lee also quotes from a congratulatory letter from President Jefferson Davis!

Historic Manuscript Document Signed “R.E. Lee /Genl,” 1¼ pages, 7.75” x 11.75”, front and verso. Hd Qrs Army N. Va., 7th May 1863. Headed “General Orders / No. 59}." Scattered soiling. Browned at perimeter from prior framing. Museum quality restoration including imperceptible darkening to front text only leaves parts of front text somewhat feathered in appearance, yet text on verso and signature are pristine and completely unaffected.

In full, “With heartfelt gratification the General Commanding expresses to the army his sense of the heroic conduct displayed by officers and men during the arduous operations in which they have just been engaged. Under trying vicissitudes of heat and storm you attacked the enemy, strongly intrenched in the depths of a tangled wilderness, and again on the hills of Fredericksburg, fifteen miles distant, and, by the valor that has triumphed on so many fields, forced him once more to seek safety beyond the Rappahannock.”

In the last sentence, General Lee has added, in his own hand, four words: “again” and “fifteen miles distant” which are present in the final version printed in its entirety in “Harpers Weekly” on May 23, 1863, indicating this most probably is Lee’s final draft of General Orders No. 59.

Lee continues, “While this glorious victory entitles you to the praise and gratitude of the nation, we are especially called upon to return our grateful thanks to the only giver of victory for the signal deliverance He has wrought. It is, therefore, earnestly recommended that the troops unite on Sunday next in ascribing to the Lord of Hosts the glory due unto His name.

“Let us not forget in our rejoicing the brave soldiers who have fallen in defense of their country; and while we mourn their loss let us resolve to emulate their noble example.

“The army and the country alike lament the absence for a time of one to whose bravery, energy, and skill they are so much indebted for success.”


The “one” was General Stonewall Jackson who, on the night of May 2, 1863, had been mistakenly shot by one of his own men.

Lee continues, “The following letter from the President of the Confederate States is communicated to the army as an expression of his appreciation of its Success:

‘I have received your dispatch, and reverently unite with you in giving praise to God for the success with which He has crowned our arms. In the name of the people I offer my cordial thanks to yourself and the troops under your command for this addition to the unprecedented series of great victories which your army has achieved. The universal rejoicing produced by this happy result, will be mingled with as general regret for the good and brave who are numbered among the killed and the wounded.’”

From History Channels’s americancivilwar.com website: “On the morning of May 2, Lieutenant General T.J. [Stonewall Jackson directed his corps on a march against the Federal left flank, which was reported to be ‘hanging in the air.’ Fighting was sporadic on other portions of the field throughout the day, as Jackson's column reached its jump-off point. At 5:20 pm, Jackson's line surged forward in an overwhelming attack that crushed the Union XI Corps. Federal troops rallied, resisted the advance, and counterattacked. Disorganization on both sides and darkness ended the fighting. While making a night reconnaissance, Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men and carried from the field.
“J.E.B. Stuart took temporary command of Jackson's Corps. On May 3, the Confederates attacked with both wings of the army and massed their artillery at Hazel Grove. This finally broke the Federal line at Chancellorsville. [Union Gen. Joseph Hooker withdrew a mile and entrenched in a defensive "U" with his back to the river at United States Ford. Union generals Berry and Whipple and Confederate general Paxton were killed; Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded. On the night of May 5-6, after Union reverses at Salem Church, Hooker recrossed to the north bank of the Rappahannock. This battle was considered by many historians to be Lee’s greatest victory.” One day after the Battle of Chancellorsville ended, on May 7, 1863, General Lee issued these General Orders No. 59.

Trying to save General Stonewall Jackson, surgery was performed in a field hospital near Chancellorsville. A mini-ball was removed from Jackson’s right hand and his twice wounded left arm was amputated. General Lee wrote to Jackson after learning of his injuries, stating “Could I have directed events, I would have chosen for the good of the country to be disabled in your stead.” In their conversation about Jackson’s condition, Lee told Jackson’s chaplain, B. Tucker Lacy, “He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm.” General Stonewall Jackson died of complications from pneumonia on May 10, 1863.

Robert E. Lee’s General Orders No. 59 was printed in its entirety in “Harpers Weekly” on May 23, 1863. In addition, when one goes to the “Robert E. Lee” Wikipedia entry, Lee’s General Orders No. 59 is his only General Orders to be quoted; not even Lee’s General Orders No. 9, issued a day after he surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox is quoted from in his entry!

This truly historic Civil War document of the noblest Son of the South would be the cornerstone of any U.S. military collection, especially one devoted to the Confederacy and the War of the Rebellion.


Item: 52389

Price: $125,000.00
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Robert Lee
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