Before his appointment to command of the Confederate force known eventually as the Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee served in several less prominent assignments. He first led troops in unsuccessful operations in western Virginia, before being appointed by Jefferson Davis to command Confederate forces along the lower Atlantic Coast, including Florida. In this position, Lee advocated the abandonment of Confederate defenses in northeast Florida, which opened the region to Federal invasion. Shortly thereafter, Lee was ordered to Richmond to serve as advisor to President Davis. In June 1862, he took command of southern forces defending Richmond. Over the next three years he won a series of spectacular victories and earned fame as perhaps the most successful battlefield commander of the Civil War.
Dated Richmond 1861
Received November 6, 1861
To Governor John Milton
Genl. R.E. Lee, C.S. Army, an officer of the highest ability and reputation left this morning to take command of the forces on the coast of South Carolina Georgia and Florida. I am sure he will do all which is possible, and commend him to your confidence & co=operation