of the enemy being in Edinburg ought to be punished. It is the only way to correct such evils and to give quiet to the other troops and citizens. False reports keep the whole country in a state of alarm; do much mischief. Thomas' and Walker's brigades can remain where they are for the present, and I desire you to look closely to their comfort and discipline.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Orange Court-House, February 15, 1864.
General A. ELZEY, Commanding Department of Richmond:
GENERAL: I have received your letters your letters of the 12th and 13th instant. The inclosed reports of your scout I should think entirely unreliable, the smallest number given being at least six times the strength of the enemy; the larger, twelve times. If re-enforcements are constantly arriving at Yorktown, where do they come from? They do not descend the Potomac, and I doubt whether any arrive save contrabands and furloughed men. As many are seen going up the Potomac as down. The enemy always exaggerate their numbers. Can you not obtain scouts who will examine for themselves and sift all information received before reporting it? Exalted statements do much harm. I wish you had a sufficient regular force around Richmond. I know no place from which it can be drawn except Charleston. Pickett ought to rejoin Longstreet next month, and it is my wish to send him to him. The troops of this army, independent of Longstreet's corps, are scattered from North Carolina to the valley, which, besides being deleterious to discipline, is injurious to the service and hazardous to the country. I wish to recall them all in March. There is not accommodation at Hanover Junction for more than one brigade, and wood is scarce for that. I can leave one brigade there for a short time and will recall General Rodes with the other. A snow-storm is now commencing, which I fear will add to their suffering and discomfort. If troops are accumulating at Williamsburg they must be drawn from some other part of Butler's department and you must endeavor to find out, so that our troops may make corresponding movements. I believe the recent demonstration on the Peninsula was intended to assist the escape of their prisoners, who had in some way contrived to give notice of their intended attempt.
I am, with, great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
PETERSBURG, February 15, 1864.
Causey recourse last night and reports as follows: The force which Butler sent up the Peninsula last week, under Wistar, Heckman, and Graham, numbering about 7,000 or 8,000, have returned to the vicinity of Fortress Monroe. Some have already left for New Berne, while others are awaiting transportation. Butler now is personally superintending the sale of confiscated lands in York, Warwick, and Elizabeth Counties.