Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 6, 1863 (Friday): Imboden of the Northwest

General John D. Imboden

February 6, 1863.
General J. D. IMBODEN,
Commanding Northwest Brigade:
    GENERAL: I beg to express my gratification at your promtion to your present command, and hope you will soon have your brigade ready for the field. The enemy will make every effort to crush us between this and June, and it will require all our strength to resist him. I rely greatly upon your energy and activity, and hope you will use every proper means in your power to bring out all the men subject to military duty in northwest. I think it necessary to caution you against receiving men who have deserted from other companies or regiments. All such should be arrested and returned to their proper commands. The army cannot be kept up if men are allowed to put at defiance the laws and regulations for its government. Men who are out of service, or who have been property discharged, can be legally embraced in your command and firmly held. I hope you will as soon as practicable eradicate from the companies you how have organized all deserters and turn them over to their officers. Your brigade is too elevated in character to retain such in its ranks. I am very sorry to learn that the small-pox has appeared among your men. By faithful vaccination and rigid quarantine it can be prevented from spreading. Cases have appeared in his manner brought by convalescents from Richmond, Danville, &c., but by the means suggested no other cases have occurred in this army. The enemy will no doubt attempt to deceive by spreading his marauding parties over the western country, and thus conceal his real movements. He cannot during the winter move with any large force across the mountains against you. But you must always be prepared and must hold the position best calculated to defeat him. I am very anxious to drive him out of the Valley, and desire you to be prepared to co-operate with General W. E. Jones whenever an opportunity occurs.
     I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 677.

Lee makes note of two problems which vexed his army.  Small-pox was a persistent problem despite vaccination efforts.  And soldiers leaving one organization and joining another was a problem never eradicated.  Imboden himself was prolific.  Married five times he wrote five articles for the Battles and Leaders.  A capable officer, he commanded an artillery unit at First Bull Run, covered the advance and retreat during the Gettysburg Campaign and served in the cavalry during the 1864 Valley Campaign.  After leaving the army for a time due to typhoid fever he returned in the last year of the war in charge of four different prison camps.

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