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Fitzhugh Lee, a nephew of Robert E. Lee, was a Confederate cavalry general during the Civil War. In mid-August 1862, he and his troopers arrived late to support J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry in a plan to attack Union Major General John Pope and his army wedged in between the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers. Lee’s tardiness allowed Federal cavalry to raid Stuart’s headquarters and capture his famous plumed hat and cape. Days later, Fitzhugh Lee and his men were among 1,500 who crossed the Rappahannock with Stuart and raided Catlett’s Station. The Confederate troopers seized hundreds of horses and mules, more than 300 prisoners, Pope’s hat, cloak, one of his dress uniforms, his dispatch book, and the army’s money chest. On the ride back to camp, Fitzhugh Lee, amused by the capture of Pope’s coat, entertained some friends by donning the hat and coat, which nearly reached his feet. “The masquerade was accompanied by a burst of jolly laughter that might have been heard for a hundred yards,” reports said. Stuart sent the coat to Governor John Letcher in Richmond as a prize of war, and he hung it in the state library for all to see. Before sending the coat away, however, Stuart wrote a sort of ransom note to Pope and sent it through the lines:


You have my hat and plume. I have your best coat. I have the honor to propose a cartel for the fair exchange of the prisoners.

Very Respectfully

J.E.B. Stuart

Maj. Genl. C.S.A.