its movements. It is said this is by order. I have hope I from day to day to have been able to discover what is contemplated, and to be guided in my movements accordingly. I think by spring, if not before, they will move upon James River. In the mean time they will endeavor to damage our railroads,&c., in North Carolina, and get possession of Wilmington and Charleston.
Should General Burnside retire from his present position, I have intended to throw part of this army into North Carolina, and with another endeavor to clear the Valley of the Shenaudoah. I did not wish to move until the designs of the enemy were developed. I have hoped that General Smith, with the troops at his disposal, could keep the enemy in North Carolina in check in the mean time. I still hope so. Since you seem to think my presence there would be of service, I will endeavor to go on as soon as I can.
All the troops in that State should be concentrated as near as possible to the threatened points. Charleston will not be attacked until Wilmington is captured. General Beauregard can, therefore, fight them at both points. As far as I have been able to judge, I have apprehended the movements in North Carolina were intended more as a feint to withdraw troops from this point, when General Burnside could move at once upon Richmond. Telegraph me your wishes.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, January 14, 1863.
Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: Your letter of the 12th instant is received.* In reply to that portion which refers to complaints of the inactivity of our troops in the valley, I can only say that General Jones, who has always borne a high character as an officer, was selected last fall by General Jackson to take command of the Valley District. His force was small, but was deemed at the time sufficient the defense of that district, and proved so during the season when active operations could be successfully carried on in that mountainous country. Now the season is so far advanced, and the climate in that region being so severe, it is almost impracticable to operate with any hope of beneficial results. Nevertheless, General Jones was ordered to make an expedition to the South Branch of the Potomac, and endeavor to drive the enemy over the Potomac. He marched on Petersburg and Moorefield, and was partially successful; but this force on being inadequate, was compelled to return to his farmer position. The enemy being more numerous than our forces in the valley, it is impossible to protect every point from their incursions. It is also impossible to send at this time
re-enforcements from this army, and as I know of nowhere else that they can be obtained, I fear we can afford but little protection to the Valley District this winter. General Jone, since his return from Moorefield, has been directed to organize the force in the valley, including Imboden's and Davidson's and endeavor to curtail the operations of the enemy, if he cannot be forced to retire. A great difficulty that he labors under is the scarcity of provisions and forage, which cripples his movements and prevents the operation of a large force.
*Letter relates principally to Milroy's assessments, and will be printed in Series III.