HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 28, 1864.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: Your letter with regard to the recruits received by General Imboden, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, has been received and forwarded to him for his guidance. While it is desirable to remove the evil of unauthorized enlistments, I fear the enforcement of the order contained in your letter will not be advantageous at the present time in the valley. General Imboden's authority was to raise a corps of partisan rangers and troops within the lines of the enemy, and these partisan rangers, &c., afterward, with the exception of one company (Captain McNeill's), constituted the regular Sixty-second, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Virginia [Cavalry] Regiments. I am aware of the great evils and abuses which have arisen under the authorities to raise new organizations, and think they should be corrected as far as can be done without incurring hazard and causing manifest injury to the service. A good corps for observation and defense is very necessary in the Valley District, and if General Imboden has enlisted any considerable number of his men under a mistaken view of his authority, to remove them at this time might be disadvantageous. I have called upon him for a report.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
MAY 13, 1864.
To Conscription Bureay, for consideration and remarks.
J. A. S.,
BUREAU OF CONSCRIPTION,
Richmond, May 19, 1864.
Respectfully returned to the Secretary of War.
This bureau has uniformly expressed opinions against the policy of granting such authority as that indicated as being held by General Imboden, and has always recommended the withdrawal of conscript material from such organizations. In view of the emphatic declaration of General Lee, it is suggested that such material as may now be found in these organizations may be permitted to remain "until further orders," but with no admission that the arrangement is to be permanent.
JNO. S. PRESTON,
Colonel and Superintendent.
HEADQUARTERS, April 28, 1864.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President of the Confederate States:
Mr. PRESIDENT: I received last evening your letter of the 26th, and regret that Your Excellency is unable to visit the army this