War of the Rebellion: Serial 060 Page 1186 OPERATIONS IN N. C.,VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XLV.

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importance of having scouts who can be relied upon, and of wighbing well the rumors and reports brought in by pickets and citizens before attacking any importance to them or sending them abroad. Pickets or scouts bringing in false or exaggerated rumors should be severely punished. Nothing so shakes the confidence of the people and the troops, nor has a greater tendency to render those on outpost duty careless and inefficient.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,

General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,

February 18, 1864.

Major General WADE HAMPTON,

Commanding Cavalry Division:

GENERAL: General Lee bids me say that he has received your letter of February 12, through General Stuart.

He thinks you did right to wait for further information before moving your command under the circumstances. He has been very much annoyed by the false alarms from Richmond, and the distress which it has caused among the men and horses in moving during the winter season.

He regrets to hear of the reduced condition of your command, and has again and again urged upon the Department the different propositions for recruiting it before the coming campaign. Your plan of keeping a mobile force somewhere in King William ready to fall upon the flank and rear of the enemy should he advance again meets with his approval. The want of troops is the chief difficulty. The only troops available for this purpose will be such dismounted men as you can spare from your command and Colonel Bradley T. Johnson's Maryland Line. A sufficient [number] of flota might be built on the Pamunkey or procured from Richmond from the Engineer Bureau. He will be glad to have you make the personal reconnaissance in that country of which you speak.

Colonel Johnson reported the incompleteness of the works around Hanover Junction, when he was ordered there, and it was hoped that they had been pushed to completion since. He will endeavor to have something done in the matter.

The general commanding will write to General Elzey and the Engineer Bureau.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. S. VENABLE,

Major and Aide-de-Camp.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,

February 18, 1864.

Major General GEORGE E. PICKETT,

Commanding Department of Southern Virginia:

GENERAL: I have had the honor to receive your letter of February 15, with the accompanying copy of the report of your operations near New Berne. * I regret the failure to capture the place, and have written to General Cooper, requesting him to order an investigation

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*See p. 92.

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