During this period, and indeed at all times, my father was fully employed. Besides the care of his own immediate command, he advised with the President and Secretary of War as to the movements and dispositions of the other armies in the Confederacy. In looking over his correspondence one is astonished a the amount of it and at its varied character. He always answered all letters addressed to him, from whatever source, if it was possible. During this winter he devoted himself especially to looking after the welfare of his troops, their clothing, shoes, and rations, all three of which were becoming very scarce. Often, indeed, his army had only a few days' rations in sight. Here are some letters written to the authorities, showing how he was hampered in his movements by the deficiencies existing in the quartermaster's and commissary departments. To the Quartermaster- General, at Richmond, he writes, October, 1863, after his movement around General Meade's right, to Manassas:
"...The want of supplies of shoes, clothing and blankets is very great. Nothing but my unwillingness to expose the men to the hardships that would have resulted from moving them into Loudoun in their present condition induced me to return to the Rappahannock. But I was averse to marching them over the rough roads of that region, at a season, too when frosts are certain and snow probable, unless they were better provided to encounter them without suffering. I should, otherwise have endeavoured to detain General Meade near the Potomac, if I could not throw him to the north side."
In a letter of the same time to the Honourable James A. Seddon, Secretary of War:
"...If General Meade is disposed to remain quiet where he is, it was my intention, provided the army could be supplied with clothing, again to advance and threaten his position. Nothing prevented my continuing in his front but the destitute condition of the men, thousands of whom are barefooted, a greater number partially shod, and nearly all without overcoats, blankets, or warm clothing. I think the sublimest sight of war was the cheerfulness and alacrity exhibited by this army in the pursuit of the enemy under all the trial and privations to which it was exposed...."
Later on, in January, when the sever weather commenced, he again writes to the Quartermaster-General on the same subject:
"General: The want of shoes and blankets in this army continues to cause much suffering and to impair its efficiency. In one regiment I am informed that there are only fifty men with serviceable shoes, and a brigade that recently went on picket was compelled to leave several hundred men in camp, who were unable to bear the exposure of duty, being destitute of shoes and blankets.... The supply, by running the blockade, has become so precarious that I think we should turn our attention chiefly to our own resources, and I should like to be informed how far the latter can be counted upon.... I trust that no efforts will be spared to develop our own resources of supply, as a further dependence upon those from abroad can result in nothing but increase of suffering and want. I am, with great respect,
There was at this time a great revival of religion in the army. My father became much interested in it, and did what he could to promote in his camps all sacred exercises. Reverend J. W. Jones, in his "Personal Reminiscences of General R. E. Lee," says:
"General Lee's orders and reports always gratefully recognised 'The Lord of Hosts' as the 'Giver of Victory,' and expressed an humble dependence upon and trust in Him.'