War of the Rebellion: Serial 014 Page 0408 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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RICHMOND, VA., March 28, 1862.

General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,

Rapidan:

Use your own discretion in the matter. General Lee thinks, however, that they had better not be not here.

G. W. RANDOLPH,

Secretary of War.

HEADQUARTERS,

Richmond, Va., March 28, 1862-1 a.m.

General JOSEPH E. JONSTON,

Rapidan, Va.:

GENERAL: Your letter by Mr. Turner of the 26th has been received, together with the reports of Mr. Stoddert and General Stuart.

In consequence of the information conveyed by your telegraphic dispatch (No. 50) that the enemy was reported in force in front of your line beyond Rappahannock Bridge, coupled with his reported strength in the above-named reports, you have been desired in a dispatch just sent to use your discretion in complying with the requisition for troops, as it was feared your line could not be weakened and held, and no stronger ground is known to me between your position and Richmond than that you occupy.

Since then your dispatch (No. 55) has been received, recommending that you repair here with the largest number of troops named in my letter of the 25th, viz, 30,000, from which it is inferred that you apprehend no attack upon your line. If this inference is correct, you can commence the movement of your troops to this place. The reason the President desired in my first telegraphic dispatch that only about half the troops you might designate for re-enforcing our right flank should be sent was to have a portion in position here to throw where required, while the balance might follow if necessary; for although the enemy is menacing both Norfolk and Portsmouth, he has not yet disclosed his real design further than by advancing up the Peninsula as far as Bethel, but in what force is not yet known. You can therefore, with this understanding of the case, proceed to forward the desired re-enforcements in part or whole, as in your judgment they can be spared from the defense of your line. It is unnecessary to observe that the baggage of the detachment should be as light as possible.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,

General, Commanding.

HEADQUARTERS,

Richmond, Va., March 28, 1862.

General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,

Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:

GENERAL: Your letter of the 27th, by Lieutenant Washington, your aide-de-camp, had been received. The reports of Generals Jackson and Stuart indicate a large force in your front. Should the enemy seize Gordonsville and Charlottesville and advance his right wing to Stauton the whole of Western Virginia, our lines of communication through