Henrietta B. Lee letter on a slave in Hedgesville fight 1861

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!


First Sergeant
Dec 8, 2008
I've seen several of Mrs. Lee's letters selling on Ebay the past few weeks, though I was interested in them I don't have the spare change to indulge. This one has an unusual content and I thought it would interest a few people here. Unfortunately, there is a sheet missing so the story stops abruptly, but here it is.

Addressing "My Dear Husband" [Edmund Jennings Lee], the author writes in part:
"I received a letter from you yesterday evening, it had been so long since you left I was feeling anxious & uneasy, especially as we never hear anything reliable from your quarter of the State. We are expecting a great battle today near Martinsburg. The Yankees are in the town 20 thousand strong. Our forces are about 7 miles from Martinsburg in about equal numbers. From what we can learn Gen. Johnston‘s plan is to draw them from the town (?) as far as possible which will enable him to cut off their retreat. The Yankees have heavy cannon planted on the Maryland side. We had a brush with them a few days ago, the accounts vary so much it is hard to separate truth from fiction ..."
Clearly lacking an unknown amount of additional text but leaving a poignant impression, the letter abruptly ends on page four:
"Instead of sending you the Sun which is full of lies I will give you some particulars of the fight at Hedgesville (?) which is between Martinsburg and ______. Pa learned the facts from Mr. Pendleton [General William N. Pendleton, CSA] himself whose artillery were engaged. The enemy's cannon balls went entirely over the heads of our people and truly no body was hurt but Pendleton’s grape made a distinct road through the Yankee columns and we claim to have killed at the very least 200 and we know we have more than 40 prisoners. A Negro belonging to the De Butts of Loudoun killed one Yankee and took one prisoner, the story is very amusing as Charles told Pa - but rather long to relate at present, suffice it to say after discharging his gun and killing one, with the empty gun close to the breast of the other, he ordered …"
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!