HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, October 16, 1863.
SIR: The enemy has taken a position east of Bull Run, where he is reported to be intrenching. His main body is about Centreville, his depots near Fairfax Court-House. I could easily turn his position,and if he still unwilling to engage in battle, could force him to retire to the fortifications around Alexandria. I do not, however, think it advantageous to attack him in his intrenchments, nor do I see any benefit to be derived from pursuing him farther. If I advanced beyond this point I should be obliged to go to Loudoun to obtain supplies. This would carry me so far from Richmond, and the condition of the roads and stage of the streams at this season of the year are so uncertain, that I think it would be hazardous, as the army might be required in some other quarter; besides, the men are poorly provided with clothes, shoes, blankets, and overcoats, and I am unwilling to subject them to the suffering that might ensue.
The enemy in retreating from the Rappahannock completely destroyed the bridge over that river, blowing up one of the piers. It would take me a long time to rebuild it. I can therefore make no use of the railroad. I have destroyed the bridges over Cub Run this side of Manassas Junction, over Broad Run at this place, and Cedar Run south of Catlett's Station, and torn up the track between the points named, burning the ties and bending the rails. The water stations have also been destroyed, and I shall continue the destruction of the road to the Rappahannock. It may prevent the return of the enemy to that river this winter. A severe easterly storm has been raging all day. The ground is saturated with water and the streams are much swollen. Unless I see that some good will be obtained by remaining here longer, I shall return to the Rappahannock.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, Bristoe Station, October 17, 1863.
MR. PRESIDENT: I have the honor to inform you that, with the view of bringing on an engagement with the army of General Meade, which lay around Culpeper Court-House, extending thence to the Rapidan, this army marched on the 9th instant by way of Madison Court-House, and arrived near Culpeper on the 11th. The enemy retired toward the Rappahannock at the railroad bridge, declining battle, and removing all his stores. I determined to make another effort to reach him, and moved through Warrenton toward the railroad north of the Rappahannock. The enemy had several direct roads by which he retired, while we were compelled to march by a more circuitous route. We only succeeded in coming up with a portion of his rear guard at this place on the 14th instant, with which a severe skirmish ensued, but without any decisive or satisfactory result.
During the night of the 14th the enemy continued his retreat, and