a more complete destruction of the road. I therefore agree to the arrangement, and assent to the part to be undertaken by you. You must make the best disposition in your power to conceal your departure from the Valley and to prevent the inroads of the enemy. You must leave your pickets as heretofore, but they can be kept up by your weaker men and horses, allowing you to take the strongest for your expedition. An inspection should be made of every man, horse, and arm carried [with you, and none must be allowed to go except those found every way competent for the hardships that may be incurred.
I do not think that any of Hampton's cavalry can be used to supply the place of your brigade in the Valley. It is distant from the fields of operations, and, as far as I can learn, requires complete restoration. You must, therefore, rely upon the arrangements you may be able to make with the forces under your command. If no movement is made by the enemy before the report of your blow against the railroad reaches him, the inhabitants in the Valley will be safe.
About the time appointed for your departure, I will cause some demonstration to be made east of the mountains, which may serve to fix his attention upon his lines of communication, and thus give you time to make your blow.
I feel it unnecessary to advise you that your movement must be expeditious and bold; but that you must take every precaution against discovery and failure. You must keep intelligent scouts in your front, flanks, and rear, who will give accurate information and not mislead your by false reports. The utmost secrecy in regard to your expedition must be observed, and I consider that the collection of cattle, horses, and provisions will be of as much importance to us, and, under certain contingencies, even more, than the destruction of the railroad. I hope, therefore, that what so primarily concerns us may not be neglected.
I will send Lieutenant William [G.] Williamson, who was employed in the destruction of the Monocacy Bridge, to report to you. You will have to supply the implements he may require, as he will not know for what purpose he joins you.
I am, with much respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 7, 1863.
Brigadier General J. D. IMBODEN,
Commanding Northwestern Virginia Brigade:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 1st has been received, and I am very glad to learn that you will obtain from General Jones all the assistance that you require. I think, with the infantry promised, you will have ample strength for your expedition. These, with the addition of your own cavalry, I hope will insure your success.
I have assented to the part to be performed by General W. E. Jones, and to his taking charge of the expedition to Oakland and Rowlesburg. You will, therefore, have with you your whole command, and can push your cavalry on to Grafton while attacking Beverly.
I repeat that the strictest secrecy is necessary to your success, and that you must be bold, expeditious, and cautious. You must have picked scouts in your front, flanks, and rear, warned against deceiving you by false reports, and directed to keep you supplied with accurate information of everything that is occurring you.