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From Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, series 1, volume 25, part 2, pp. 814-815

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia

May 21, 1863


Hon. James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:


          Sir: The desertion of the North Carolina troops from this army is becoming so serious an evil that, unless it can be promptly arrested, I fear the troops from that State will become greatly reduced.

          Brigadier General Lane[1] reports that on the night of the 19th instant 32 men from Company A, Thirty-seventh Regiment North Carolina Volunteers, deserted, taking with them their arms, equipments, ammunition, &c. They had just been paid off. These men are from Ashe County, bordering upon Grayson County, Virginia.

          Capt. John C. Gorman[2], Company B, Second Regiment North Carolina troops, states that one of them, of his company, who deserted on the 10th of April last, has voluntarily returned. From him he learns that a great many of the deserters from his brigade cross the James River some 40 or 50 miles above Richmond, at Lumbertown, and the Roanoke at Horse Ford Mills, in Amelia County. If local troops in the neighborhood could guard these fords and others along the rivers, a great many of our deserters might be arrested. [page 815

          The deserters usually go in squads, taking their arms and equipments, and sometimes borrow from their comrades ammunition sufficient to make 100 rounds per man. I think it probable that they pass themselves off as guards or patrols in search of deserters.

          I need not enlarge upon the extent to which this evil will grow if not at once stopped. I hope that you will represent the matter to His Excellency the Governor of North Carolina, so as to induce him to take active measures in the case, and to enlist all the good men in the State to reprobate and discountenance it. I must also request that you do everything in your power to remedy the evil.

I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant, 

R.E. Lee



P.S. - I forward descriptive lists of some of the deserters, which, if transmitted to the Governor or chief enrolling officer, might lead to their apprehension.

[1] James Henry Lane (1833-1907) was a Virginia-born brigadier general of North Carolina troops who served with distinction in the Army of Northern Virginia.

[2] John Calvin Gorman (1835-1892) was a printer in Wilson County when he became a lieutenant in Company B, 2nd North Carolina Infantry, before being promoted to Captain. Manarin, comp. North Carolina Troops, 3:390; The State Chronicle (Raleigh, N.C.), December 28, 1892.


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