I am a member of a volunteer
company of cavalry, which has no arms, & none
of whose officers has a military education, or
much of any kind. My own life has been spent
in the study of books, though I have no military edu-
cation. Up to the time of Lincoln's proclamation,
I was employed as a teacher in one of the high
schools which prepare boys to enter the University.
Since that time, I have been pretending to drill
with this company of men above-mentioned. I
acknowledge my own ignorance of military tactics,
& yet I think it no compliment to myself to say I
know more of the science than some of my officers.
None of us know enough, I assure you. For myself
I feel that I am wasting time. I am a delicate
man & could not do a great deal physically. Could
you know point
could without failing to serve my country with
my hand, yet serve it more with my head? I wish
you to understand me as craving no office, but, as
an educated man, can I not be put in some
position where my education would "tell." Accus-
tomed as I am to books, I feel as if I am throwing
myself away, & making no use of the best part of
myself in going along as a private with these
good & brave, but ignorant men. Many of my
educated friends, some following the same occupation,
are ready & willing to apply their shoulders to the wheel
but do not know where to apply it. Would it be better
for us to go to the Institute? If your arduoius
duties will permit, you can do much good to
many men of this class whom I know , by sending
me your advice. Among these is a brother of mine,
whose course is almost completed at the University, &
who is well acquainted with your son, who is now there.
Humble as is my position, I take the liberty
of writing to you on this subject, knowing you to
be best qualified to direct, both on account
of your high position, & because you
good christian. God bless you in all your
efforts is the prayer of
Your sincere friend
J. C. Dinwiddie.
Referred to Col. P. St. Geo.
Cocke Commdg at Culpepper C.H.
By order of Maj. Gen. Lee
John A. Washington
respecting the acquisition
of military knowledge
University of Virginia alumnus John Calvin Dinwiddie, later a Presbyterian minister and principal of a female college in Gordonsville, Va.
The younger brother to whom he refers would be James L. Dinwiddie who received a Masters Degree from the University of Virginia in 1861. Apparently not as delicate or reluctant to endure the uneducated men in the military he served as an artillery captain, and briefly as Robert E. Lee's secretary. After the war he was a professor at Southwestern Presbyterian College in Clarksville, Tenn.