HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, December 11, 1862-6 a.m.
GENERAL: General Longstreet has just reported that the enemy is attempting to cross at Fredericksburg, and is now putting down his pontoon bridges. Ascertain the best position for the two big guns, and bring the to bear.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S., Richmond, Va., December 11, 1862.
Major General SAMUEL JONES,
GENERAL: I have to-day caused to be telegraphed to you a telegram, just received from General Lee, informing us of the attempted advance of the enemy in force across the Rappahannock, and likewise of the movements of their forces in the valley and Northwestern Virginia. A copy* of that telegram is inclosed, and should any others be received before this letter is mailed, copies of such will likewise be sent. From them and your own sources of information you will have further elements of decision in regard to the desire expressed by the Department on yesterday that, if deemed by you safe, you would either dispatch from you command two regiments to re-enforce General Smith's command here or hold them the railroad in preparation to be forwarded if called for by telegram.
After writing you on yesterday, I addressed, to avoid the loss of time, direct to Brigadier-General Marshall, a letter substantially of like import with the letter to you, directing if in his opinion consistent with the safety of his force,that two Virginia regiments with him should likewise be either forwarded here or held prepared to move if called for. Had not the occasion been esteemed pressing, these instructions in respect to a part of General Marshall's force would have been addressed to you, as commanding the department, and you are now requested to communicate similar instructions from yourself to that general.
From various sources I learn that many portions of the country within your command have been denuded of resources adequate to sustain the large force of cavalry in your command, and that the supplies throughout the whole region are this year unusually scant, so as to make it very desirable, both for the inhabitants and for the support of your army, when the season arrives for more important operations, that at least most of those horses should be removed during the winter. I have just has the benefit of a frank conversation with General; Echols on this and other subjects relating to the country under you command, and learn, with pleasure, from him that he had enjoyed, before leaving, the advantage of conference with you. I am, therefore, induced to submit to you the inquiry, whether it would not be advisable to retain, for active use during the winter, only some 500 or 600 cavalry, and either send the others, as cavalry, to occupy and make incursions from the country in front of General Marshall's late position into Kentucky (partial but