James Hamilton smiled to himself, a bit reflectively, as he glanced between his page and a the portrait of Robert E. Lee hanging to one side of his small fireplace. Soon the room was filled with the noise of the clock ticking and the scratching of his pen.
My Dear Fred,
Yesterday I wrote to you of a small instance in General Jackson's life. Today, I take pen in hand to tell you of an instance in the life of another of our most gallant generals.
Tuesday, 5 November 1861, General Robert Edward Lee was named the commander of the Department f South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida. This department was fairly new and there was much need for improvement in the defenses. Indeed, directly as he arrived at his command, Port Royal, South Carolina fell to the invaders. This circumstance will be covered more fully in a future letter.
General Lee was nicknamed "King of Spades" at this juncture of his career; for he put his men to work digging entrenchments. You may rest assured, Fred, that "King of Spades" was not meant to be flattering; the men considered the work unseemly and thought that brave men would not "hide behind earthworks in the first place".
However, these earthworks served the purpose of withdrawing the fight from along the coast and the rivers, thus ensuring that the enemy would not be enabled to fire upon the defenders with their gunboats.
Let this be a lesson to you, lad: hard, physical labor is sometimes of the utmost importance and is never beneath a man--regardless of rank or color.
Your loving Grandfather,
James B. Hamilton