ALS signed “R. E. Lee,” one page, lightly-lined, 5 x 8, Lexington, Virginia, January 7, 1867. Letter to Judge Ro. Ould. In full: “I have been prevented from thanking you for your letter of last Nobr. from the fact of not being able to read Mr. Pollard’s account of the exchange of Prisoners. I have his work & as you endorse his statements as correct, it will answer my purpose. As the truth will be sure to be controverted, it will be advisable to support it by all evidence bearing on the subject. Should I find it necessary, I will take advantage of your offer to direct me to other facts in the case.” In fine condition, with a crease to the lower left and a tiny area of toning to the upper left. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope, addressed in Lee’s hand.
After moving to Lexington and assuming the role of president of Washington College in 1865, Lee spent much of his time assembling notes, letters, and data from the war. One topic that garnered great attention was the Confederate treatment of prisoners and the practice of prisoner exchange. Though willing to make exchanges earlier in the war, Grant ended the practice completely in 1864 in response to the Confederates’ blatant disregard for Lincoln’s order to treat black prisoners fairly; regarding them as slaves rather than soldiers, Confederates violently mistreated and frequently executed them rather than accept surrender. The Confederate Army became overburdened with prisoners and eventually released them in exchange for nothing, making Grant’s decision a key factor in the Union’s success. In his 1867 volume The Lost Cause: A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates, Edward A. Pollard (who had been imprisoned and released in an exchange himself) tackled the subject with great diligence and a clear Confederate bias. With the endorsement of Judge Robert Ould, the Confederate Agent for Exchange during the war, Pollard’s work served Lee well in his research. The two soon became quite familiar, as Pollard went on to publish two books on the general. An excellent letter regarding a controversial Civil War topic, with important connections to the intellectual community in Virginia where the Confederate hero found a home in his scholarly pursuits. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.