peake for a combined movement against Richmond. To do this he must diminish his forces at other points. In addition to the information contained in your dispatch of yesterday, I learn that troops have been withdrawn from the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and that blacks have been substituted for whites in the intrenchments around Alexandria. Should you be able to complete the field-works on which you are engaged by the opening of the campaign, and to organize the local troops for their defense, it will enable you to strike at any vulnerable point with your active force you may discover in the enemy's line. I also desire you to be prepared, should opportunity offer, upon the advance of the Army of the Potomac to the Rapidan, to cross the Blue Ridge with your available force, leaving your pickets with a proper reserve in position to operate on the enemy's flank and rear unless at that time you can get possession of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, arrest the travel, and thus detach troops from his main army. I wish you to keep General Breckinridge advised of any movement that may be made against you, or any that you think you can advantageously make against the enemy, in order that, if possible, he may co-operate with you. We must be prepared for feints by the enemy when he is about to make his general advance, and not be deceived by them, but repulse them boldly. I have informed General Breckinridge that you will communicate to him anything received of importance.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 11, 1864.
General G. E. PICKETT:
GENERAL: I received this evening your letter of the 9th, by your courier. Your plan for operations in North Carolina is good and if you can carry it into execution at once I think must succeed. I have delayed recalling Hoke until the last moment, with a view to his assisting in the accomplishment of these operations. As the time of the completion of the gun-boats is still uncertain, could not the place of his brigade at the proper time be supplied by one from Wilmington or Charleston, and let him join me at once? He should send off his men by detachments, so as not to interrupt transportation of supplies by railroad, which will require several days for the journey. As far as I can judge the Army of the Potomac will advance as soon as the roads will permit, and I shall require all the re-enforcements I can get. I therefore request you to forward Hoke's command to me as soon as you can. General Kilpatrick is in Culpeper. My inquiry was caused by a report from one of the scouts, who stated he had not returned with his troops. I had seen the statement of his arrival at Willard's but did not know whether it was true. Major General P. H. Sheridan is assigned to the command of the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac. The Eleventh and Twelfth Corps has been consolidated into the Twentieth, under General Hooker. I am obliged to you for information of troops on the Peninsula. Scouts on the Potomac report that on the 9th ten steamers with troop estimated at two brigades, passed up the river. They did not state whether they were river or sea steamers. I conjecture the former, as they always particularize the latter. This