No. 426. Reports of General Robert E. Lee, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Northern Virginia . HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, June 7, 1863.
Mr. PRESIDENT: I commenced to draw the army from the vicinity of Fredericksburg on Wednesday morning, June 3 . McLaws' division, of Longstreet's corps, moved on that day . It was followed Thursday morning by Rodes' division, and on Friday by Early's and Johnson's, of ewell's corps. Hood's division of Longstreet's corps, which had been previously advance to the Rapidan, was directed on the 3rd instant, to move to Culpeper Court-House. On the afternoon of Friday, the 5th instant, the enemy made open preparations to cross the Rappahannock at the old position at the mouth of Deep Run. After driving back our sharpshooters, under a furious cannonade from their batteries, by afforce of skirmishers, they crossed a small body of troops, and occupied the bank of the river. It was so devoid of concealment, that I supposed the intention was to ascertain what forces occupied the position at Fredericksburg, or to fix our attention upon that place while they should accomplish some other object. I thou
gh it prudent to send that night to General Ewell to halt his march until I could see what the next day would develop, and placed A. P. Hill's corps in position to meet any attack that might be made the next morning . After watching the enemy's operations Saturday, and being unable to discover more troops that could be attended to by A. P. Hill, and no advance having been made by them, I sent forward to General Ewell to resume his march, and left Fredericksburg myself in the evening . My conclusion was the enemy had discovered the withdrawal of our troops from Fredericksburg, and wished to detain us until he could make corresponding Changes. I have with me two divisions of Longstreet's corps and the three divisions of Ewell's . I desire to bring up the remaining division of Longstreet (PIckett's), and send you a dispatch this morning, requesting that [J. R.] Cooke should be advanced to this place, and that [M.] Jenkins should be brought from the Balckwater to replace Cooke. If it is true, as reported by General Elzey, that only 1, 500 of the enemy remain in Suffolk, Ransom's brigade will be more than sufficient for that line . West Point being evacuated, and the force at Yorktown reduced, there is nothing to be apprehended from that quarter, and Cooke and Jenkins should be directed to follow me as soon as you think it safe for them to do so . As far as I can, the enemy appears to be extending up the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg . The whole line of the Rappahannock is guarded closely, every ford defended and closely picketed to Beverly's, above Rappahannock Bridge. His cavalry is massed along the line of the railway from Catlell's to Bealeton, Stoneman's headquarters being at Shumate's, on Cedar Run (Fauquier). I think if I can create an apprehension for the safety of their right flank and the Potomac, more troops will be brought from their lines of operations in the south . But to gain any material advantage, I should, if possible, have a large force, as their army, by all accounts, is represented as very large . If it is true, as stated in the Northern papers, the General Hunter's forces have been reduced by reenforcements sent to the Gulf, it would be well for General Beaure-