informed him that he could not rely upon the return of the Army of Tennessee to relieve that city, and suggested the propriety of withdrawing from it, and endeavor to beat the enemy in the field. I hope this course will meet with the approbation of the department. General Johnston, on the 16th, from Smithfield, reports the Federal army east of the Cape Fear, but near Fayetteville. He had ordered 300 wagons of the Tennessee army to be used in filling gaps in railroad and 100 wagons to collect supplies in South Carolina for this army. I hope this will furnish some relief.
General Echols, at Wytheville, on the 12th, reports that a portion of the troops in East Tennessee had been removed south of Knoxville, destination not known, and that the engineer troops which had commenced to repair the Tennessee railroad from Knoxville east had been withdrawn and sent to Chattanooga for the purpose, it was thought, of repairing the road toward Atlanta. He also states that an intelligent scout just from Kentucky reports Burbridge's force had been taken to Nashville and that considerable bodies of troops were passing up the Ohio on their way to Grant. He believed all these reports may be relied on. The enemy seems still to be collecting a force in the Shenandoah Valley, which indicates another movement as soon as the weather will permit. Rosser's scouts report that there is some cavalry and infantry now at Winchester and that Hancock has a portion of his new corps at Halltown. I think these troops are intended to supply the place of those under General Sheridan, which it is plain General Grant has brought to his army. The addition, of these three mounted divisions will give such strength to his cavalry, already numerically superior to ours, that it will enable him, I fear, to keep our communications to Richmond broken. Had we been able to use the supplies which Sheridan has destroyed in his late expedition in maintaining our troops in the Valley in a body, if his march could not have been arrested, it would at least have been rendered comparatively harmless, and we should have been spared the mortification that has attended it. Now, I do not see how we can sustain even our small force of cavalry around Richmond. I have had this morning to send General William H. F. Lee's division back to Stony Creek, whence I had called it in the last few days, because I cannot provide it with forage. I regret to have to report these difficulties, but think you ought to be apprised of them in order if there is any remedy it should be applied.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARTILLERY CORPS, March 17, 1865.
Lieutenant Colonel W. H. TAYLOR,
COLONEL: Will you oblige me by submitting to the general for his decision the following suggestions toward re-establishing the artillery of Second Corps on a basis agreed upon by General Walker, chief of artillery, Third Corps, Colonel Carter, and myself, without increasing the artillery force beyond the amount mentioned by the general himself?
First. That the battalion commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel King and Major McLaughlin, now in Giles County foraging, be assigned to Fort Clifton, instead of Lieutenant-Colonel Cutshaw, the horses, guns, &c., being turned over to the latter that it may be fitted for the field.