is now reported to be fortifying at Centreville. I do not deem it advisable to attack him in his intrenchments, or to force him farther back by turning his present position, as he could quickly reach the fortifications around Washington and Alexandria, which we are not prepared to invest. Should I advance farther, I should be compelled to go to Loudon for subsistence for the army, this region being entirely destitute, and the enemy having made the railroad useless to us by the complete destruction of the Rappahannock bridge. Such a movement would take us too far from other points where the army might be needed, and the want of clothing, shoes, blankets, and overcoats would entail great suffering upon our men. I can see not benefit to be derived from remaining where we are, and shall consequently return to the line of the Rappahannock.
The railroad bridges over Cub Run, Broad Run, and Cedar Run have been destroyed, and the track torn up from the first-mentioned point back toward the Rappahannock, the ties burnt, and the rails bent. The destruction will be continued as far as the river, and may prevent another advance of the enemy in this direction this season.
We have captured about 1,600 prisoners, and inflicted some additional loss upon the enemy in the various skirmishes that have occurred since the movement began. Our own loss was slight, except in the action at this place, where it was quite severe, and I regret to add that five pieces of artillery belonging to Hill's corps were captured. The particulars have not yet been officially reported to me, but shall communicated as soon as received.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President Confederate States.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, October 19, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to receive your letter of the 16th instant. I am doubtful as yet whether General Meade will remain on the defensive or again make a movement upon Richmond. I left him fortifying his line along Bull Run, which extended northerly across the Little River turnpike at Chantilly, where he was constructing a redoubt in the yard [?]. Before a permanent advance on his part can be made, he will be obliged to reconstruct the Orange and Alexandria Railroad from Cub Run to the Rappahannock. I suppose a few days will disclose his intentions. Our cavalry is still north of the Rappahannock.
If General Meade is disposed to remain quiet where he is, it was my intention, provided the army could be supplied with clothing, again to advance and threaten his positions. Nothing prevented my continuing in his front the destitute condition of the men, thousands of whom are bearfooted, a greater number partially shod, and nearly all without overcoats, blankets, or warm clothing. I think the sublimest sight of the war was the cheerfulness and alacrity exhibited by this army in the pursuit of the enemy under all the trials and privations to which it was exposed.