Original (Not in General Lee's handwriting but signed by him)
Head Qurs: Army No. Va.
19 December 1862
I have been informed that private John W. Irwin of Company A 9th Virginia Cavalry, has been captured by some of the troops under your command, and is being tried as a spy. Presuming if this information be correct that the object of the investigation is to ascertain the truth, I have thought proper to make known to you the facts connected with the absence of private Irwin from his regiment, as reported to me by Colonel Beale, Commanding 9th Va: Cavalry, and Brig. Genl W.H.F. Lee, commanding the Brigade to which the regiment belongs.
While the Brigade was at Brandy Station, in Culpepper County, private Irwin received permission from his Brigade Commander about the 14th November, to visit his home in Stafford County to procure a fresh horse.
This is a permission given in similar cases, and at the time, it was not known that the place to which private Irwin wished to proceed, was within the lines of your Army. The person in question is described to me as follows: small (page 2) figure, about five feet nine inches high, complexion dark, hair mahogany, and eyes blue. Age, about eighteen years, and manner rather sprightly.
Your Obt. Servt
R E Lee
Major General A. E. Burnside
Commanding U. S. forces
Opposite Fredericksburg Va: